Being fitted with a ballistic vest didn’t sit well with some of the six law enforcement dogs who received them Wednesday at Topeka police headquarters, said Maj. Dan Hesket, of the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism.
Hesket, assistant director of KDWPT’s law enforcement division, said the unspoken message from those dogs was: “What is this thing you’re putting on me? I’m not a horse. Don’t put a saddle on me.”
Still, law enforcement agencies have a vested interest in keeping police dogs safe in such situations as the April 1998 stabbing of Topeka police dog Sevo, whom police Lt. Andrew Beightel said had to be put down a couple of months later because of his injuries.
One Topeka police dog and his handler and five KDWPT dogs and their handlers were present Wednesday as Midge Grinstead, Kansas senior state director of the Humane Society of the United States, delivered ballistic vests to be used by those agencies’ law enforcement dogs. Neither agency had maintained vests for its dogs in recent years.
“We’re excited to work together to create a safer way for Kansas K-9 officers to be able to do their job and keep their dogs and community safe,” Grinstead said.
The Humane Society of the U.S. said in a news release that it was teaming up with the Humane Society Legislative Fund of Kansas and a Leawood family to donate dozens of K-9 ballistic vests and car heat alarms to more than 40 law enforcement agencies in Kansas.
“The ballistic vests, each custom tailored to the K-9 unit’s working dog, provide a life-saving shield for all dogs in service, minimizing the potential for death or injury should the dog be involved in an incident where a weapon is discharged,” the release said.
Vests will be provided to all seven Topeka police K-9 handlers. They are anticipated to put them on their canine partners only in situations — such as standoffs with barricaded people — where the vests are thought to be needed, Beightel said.
He said the department isn’t receiving any heat alarms, which it already has for its dogs.
Hesket said ballistic vests are being provided for all seven of KDWPT’s law enforcement dogs, as well as two others it plans to bring on.
KDWPT, which already has heat sensors for the seven pickup trucks used to transport its current dogs, is expected to receive kennels containing two additional sensors, he said.