Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Canine Wounded Heroes-out on the front lines.

In my last post I described the very positive experience I had at the Metropolitan Police Dog Training School and their very forward techniques. Further details on the experience had to wait due to my time disappearing very quickly under the weight of other appearances. Further, I had to respond to Miami and evaluate a group of dogs at rick, and THEN came to Nassau, The Bahamas, where we are facing a serious outbreak of canine distemper virus (more on both of these issues later).

So...the basis for our visit to the Met Dog School was a program set up by the hard working and dedicated people at Canine Wounded Heroes (http://www.caninewoundedheroes.org). CWH collected donations, coordinated the visit, and arranged to have eighteen (18!) personalized bullet proof vests shipped and delivered to the Metropolitan London Police to protect their working dogs from gunshot and sharp weapon injury.

Canine Wounded Heroes was founded by Jodie Richers. Jodie, a tireless animal activist based in Atlanta, GA, founded Dogs on Death Row in 2007, followed by Cats on Death Row, Horses on Death Row, and Habitats for Dogs & Cats. Having worked in the nonprofit arena for many years as the director for One Child At A Time (an international aid and adoption organization), and also as a board member for Children's Charities of America, Jodie possesses a skill set ideal for leveraging dollars into the most efficient action possible to save the greatest number of dogs and cats.

Canine Wounded Heroes is dedicated to the protection of our working dogs, be they police, arson investigators, bomb-detection animals or military working dogs. They actively collect donations that are directly applied to their protection efforts, with only 1% of the donations applied to any administrative or official costs. Board Members such as Karen Talbot and Prince Lorenzo Borghese of Animal Aid USA serve as strict volunteers allowing the funds to go where they need-to the animals.

At the dog school I saw and handled the vests. They are truly state-of-the-art units. Fully fit, they have vastly improved shoulder articulation allowing the dogs to finally work freely while protected. They are modular, so they can be adapted to the situation at hand. They are lighter, better ventilated, and are equipped to handle everything from daily patrol to insertion by helicopter with the Special Unit. Since they are modular, these vests can be fit to a dog exiting a police vehicle in 8 seconds. This allows the dog to say cool and comfortable during normal travel, but deploy on a serious crime with full battle gear with no delay.

I have a personal soft spot for protecting police and working dogs. During my career as a Police Officer I was involved in a pursuit that ended in a shootout with an armed drug dealer. Our police dog, Jacksonville Sheriff's Officer K9 Titan, took a bullet that was certainly intended for a human officer. Despite the best efforts of our police Veterinarian, Dr. P.C. Hightman, Titan did not survive. Had Titan been wearing a vest he might have survived the encounter.

These vests will hopefully give the dogs of the Met Police the edge they need to safely do their jobs. They will be protected not only from bullets and sharp objects, but the ballistic material of the vests will also serve to dissipate the effects of blunt object impacts. I can't commend-and recommend-the efforts of Canine Wounded Heroes more strongly. Please consider donating to Canine Wounded Heroes at https://www.charity-pay.com/d/donation.asp?CID=68

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