“Officer [Ara] Baronian worked very hard to raise the funds to get the K9 in the first place,” said Wilkins, a local attorney with experience in animal law. “This dog is going to put his life in danger for all of us in our city, and the least we can do is make sure he’s protected.”
She has partnered with Gwinnett County-based nonprofit Project Paws Alive to raise $6,000 for a ballistic vest, a first aid field trauma kit, a cooling vest, Kevlar dog boots, a pet oxygen mask and a vehicle heat alarm system to prevent the dog from overheating in a patrol vehicle.
The nonprofit is dedicated to providing life-saving equipment to law enforcement, military and first responder agencies throughout the country.
“A large majority of K9 units are either 100 percent run on donations or the department only pays to get the dog in there, the cost to get the dog trained and … the medical expenses but they really don’t pay for these other pieces of equipment because they’re considered non-standard issue,” said Karen Caprio with Project Paws Alive.
She said the organization works with representatives from each agency to make sure they know how to use properly every piece of equipment.
Milton police officer Chris Ward will be the handler for the city’s new K9, a German Shepherd named Kyro.
“We are hoping to get the ballistic vest and the first aid kit,” he said. “This vest will not only better protect him in high-risk situations but on dangerous situations we come across on patrol. The first aid kit would be great. It has items that are dog-specific and could save his life in traumatic situations.”
Ward said the K9 will be used to track missing children and adults, track and apprehend fleeing criminals and locate controlled substances.
“A K9 is a tool that is capable of doing the things we can’t,” he said.
Wilkins said she has been involved in a few of the police department’s citizen outreach classes and programs and understands the value a K9 brings to police.
“These dogs save people’s lives,” she said. “They save our officers’ lives. Why shouldn’t we protect them?"
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