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Donations from organization helps protect sheriff's office K-9s

Project Paws Alive give items valued at $8,500

Friday, Sept. 13, 2013 7:33 PM
Last updated Saturday, Sept. 14, 2013 2:12 AM
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Richmond County’s K-9 dogs have an extra layer of safety after a Georgia-based nonprofit organization reached out to help this year.

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Deputy Patrick Cullinan places a cooling vest on his German Shepherd Blecky. Project Paws Alive donated two ballistics and 10 cooling vests, and 10 first-aid kits to the K-9 department.  EMILY ROSE BENNETT/STAFF
EMILY ROSE BENNETT/STAFF
Deputy Patrick Cullinan places a cooling vest on his German Shepherd Blecky. Project Paws Alive donated two ballistics and 10 cooling vests, and 10 first-aid kits to the K-9 department.

Project Paws Alive presented the sheriff’s office last month with two ballistics vests, 10 cooling vests and 10 trauma first-aid kits, valued at about $8,500. The money is raised through donations, with most of Richmond County’s coming from out of state, according to Karen Caprio, co-founder and vice president.

“The communities really get behind us when they understand that this isn’t standard equipment that’s issued,” Caprio said.

Project Paws Alive started last September after the founders heard about a series of police dog deaths that could have been prevented with ballistics vests. In its first year, the organization has fully funded 14 Georgia agencies with K-9 protective gear. Caprio said they have expanded support nationwide, but the primary focus is Georgia.

An organization supporter on Facebook led them to Richmond County, where Caprio found that the sheriff’s office unit of 10 dogs had only two ballistics vests, both of which are outdated.

The unit, which includes Labrador retrievers, German shepherds, Belgian Malinois and hounds, started 13 years ago and offers support for 15 counties in tracking, narcotics and explosive/weapon searches.

Funding grants had helped purchase ballistics vests, but now the money has dried up.

It’s not uncommon to see similar situations elsewhere. Caprio said canine units are often bypassed when it comes time to allocate money, and in many locations the units are run on donations alone.

According to the Project Paws Alive, ballistics vests cost about $1,400; cooling vests, $200; and trauma kits, $350. Most vests are recommended for five years of use before replacement.

“It’s crippling,” Caprio said of the costs. “It’s hard every five years for any department to make an investment of $1,400 per canine.”

The project originally started out with a $15,000 goal and would provide all three items for each dog, but the list was later readjusted, Caprio said.

“Project Paws really was great assisting us,” said Sgt. John Gray, the K-9 unit supervisor. “They were able to accomplish the goals that were set out. They initiated it, raised the money and did all the work, so our hats are off to them.”

The new items have been dispersed and a veterinarian-taught, K-9 first-aid class in October will train handlers on the trauma kit items.

“(The handlers) were really excited about the trauma kits,” Gray said. “They provide us a little bit of a edge in the event that, while we’re in the field, something happens to our partners. It provides them a little comfort while we get them to a vet.”

The ballistics vests, which are bullet-proof and knife-proof, have been issued to the unit’s tracking dogs. Because the vests are specially fit to the wearer, they will not be traded out throughout the unit.

All dogs have been fitted for cooling vests, but Gray anticipates they will be especially helpful to tracking dogs during long searches in the hot, Georgia sun.

Caprio said the organization will maintain an ongoing relationship with the sheriff’s office to help the unit meet new needs in the upcoming years.

Comments (7) Add comment
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Casting_Fool
1133
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Casting_Fool 09/14/13 - 12:35 am
2
0
Awesome.

Awesome.

Casting_Fool
1133
Points
Casting_Fool 09/14/13 - 12:35 am
2
0
Awesome.

Awesome.

seenitB4
86578
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seenitB4 09/14/13 - 06:21 am
4
0
Please

Please give us an address to contribute to the Richmond county K-9 dogs...thanks

proud2bamerican
441
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proud2bamerican 09/14/13 - 10:33 am
1
0
Contributions for this great project...

Project Paws Alive has a FB page for contributions, etc.

Sweet son
10309
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Sweet son 09/14/13 - 12:14 pm
1
0
If more vests are needed to protect all of 'our' dogs then the

Sheriff should use seized drug money to fund them!

Take care of 'our' canine friends! :)

September is Ovarian Cancer awareness month.

Know the symptoms of this deadly disease!

Riverman1
83439
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Riverman1 09/14/13 - 06:43 pm
2
0
Dogs need cooling vests? Who

Dogs need cooling vests? Who decided this?

ProjectPawsAlive
2
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ProjectPawsAlive 09/16/13 - 08:36 am
0
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RCSO K9s

Tax-deductible donations can be made directly to Project Paws Alive online via this link (http://projectpawsalive.org/donate/) or checks and money orders can also be mailed to Project Paws Alive, 1911 Grayson Highway, Suite 8-158, Grayson, GA 30017. Please make all checks payable to Project Paws Alive and note “RCSO K-9″ in the memo line.

Project Paws Alive maintains a waitlist for Law Enforcement K9 equipment and has 4 other agencies in the area in need of K9 equipment who are unable to afford it.

For more information, please see our website at http://www.ProjectPawsAlive.org

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