Law enforcement and the public often have been shielded from entering dangerous situations by specially trained dogs that take down suspects. But what protects the dogs from violent perpetrators?
A Hodges couple have answered that by buying three full sets of canine body armor for the Greenwood County Sheriff’s Office, according to a GCSO press release. Denny and Carole Cole bought the canine body armor to honor the memory of their beloved black Labrador “Whopper,” who died in April 2005 after 13 years with the family.
They also wanted to support the GCSO’s new Working Dogs program. The Coles donated the money for the armor in April, but training and delays in receiving the armor kept all the handlers from being equipped until now.
Canine body armor more expensive
Canine armor costs slightly more than human bulletproof vests for the level of protection, Carole Cole said.
She said “Whopper” was found at 5 months old.”He came home in a (Burger King) Whopper box, but he grew to become a 96-pound black lab,” she said, according to the press release. “He was our baby.”
The Coles got the idea to give the bodyarmor after reading the GCSO dogs didn’t have bullet protection. Budget cuts prevented the sheriff’s office from purchasing their own canine body armor, Carole Cole said.
The canine body armor is the same type of Kevlar found in deputies’ bullet-resistant vests, but cut to fit the four-legged cops, said Mike Frederick, chief deputy of the Greenwood County Sheriff’s Office. Deputies with canines are appreciative of the canine body armor, considering dogs can get in just as much trouble as their human partners. When a dog is sent in to help bring a suspect into custody, the animal often goes one-on-one with people armed with guns, knives and other weapons, Frederick said.
They’re basically in the same peril that the deputies are in,
Law enforcement loses dogs each year in the line of duty, so protection is very important. Most of the canine units that got the canine body armor go on drug searches, patrol and do some limited tracking, Frederick said. The dogs in the Working Dog program don’t have as an advanced sense of smell as the GCSO’s bloodhound team.
“These dogs are amazing,” said Sheriff Dan Wideman in the press release. “Watching them in action is something to behold.” Frederick said the program was started at the beginning of this year, but is getting up to speed with deputies finishing their training. Three canine handlers are working now in Greenwood County, with another trainer to be hired in January.
Carole Cole said it was exciting to see the dogs with their canine body armor, especially since she is an animal lover.”It’s a great feeling to be able to know that both human life and the life of a dog will be protected,” she said.