K-9 officers from two local law enforcement agencies recently received safety ballistic vests thanks to the fundraising efforts of the students enrolled in the Foothill College Veterinary Technology Program, as well as the Police & Working K-9 Foundation, a Woodside-based nonprofit organization.
K-9 officers Argo of the Santa Clara Police Department and K-9 Zac of the Sunnyvale Department of Public Safety, participated in a vest presentation ceremony April 27 at Foothill’s Veterinary Technology Laboratory in Room 8507 at the campus in Los Altos Hills. The presentation included fitting the police dogs with their custom-fitted vests, as well as remarks from Foothill College President Judy C. Miner, Ph.D., Foothill College Veterinarian Technology Instructor Sandra Gregory, RVT., M.Ed., and students enrolled in the popular career-training program. Additional speakers at the presentation will include the human officers who partner with K-9s Argo and Zac, as well as Police & Working K-9 Foundation Vice President Louise V. Tully.
Constructed of Kevlar and other materials, the lightweight and flexible vests protect K-9s from ballistic, stabbing and slashing threats. Law enforcement K-9s can wear the all-terrain vests for a variety of duties, including tracking, searching, extracting and apprehending suspects.
To pay for the vests, which cost $2,400 each, Foothill College students organized fundraising dinners, sold candy, took pet photos and participated in other events to raise money. Inspired by the students’ commitment to increasing community awareness of animal-related issues, the Police & Working K-9 Foundation agreed to match the funds raised by the Foothill College students.
“Today these individuals are students, but very soon, they'll be the professionals who will assist in surgeries on your family's beloved pets,” Gregory says. “Not only are we training Foothill students for rewarding hands-on careers helping animals and their families, we’re supporting our students as they embrace their roles as advocates for animal health and safety issues in the community.
“Our students get it—they understand how their profession and commitment come full circle. From organizing a student chapter of the National Association for Veterinary Technicians of America (SCNAVTA) to fundraising to presenting the vests to Argo and Zac, Foothill College Veterinary Technology students are making a very real impact that has a positive ripple effect on the individual animals, their fellow police officers and our community,” Gregory says.
Of special note is the unique inscription that is stitched inside the vest designated for K-9 officer Argo. The inscription honors U.S. Army National Guard Military Police Officer SPC Sean Walsh, a longtime Santa Clara Police Explorer who was killed in combat in Afghanistan in 2011. In honor of her son’s dreams of a law enforcement career, Cheryl Walsh donated $10,000 to the Santa Clara Police Department to purchase, train and equip K-9 Argo, a Belgian Malinois. Cheryl Walsh founded the San Jose-based Sean M. Walsh K-9 Memorial Fund to honor her son’s memory and to support police canine programs.
About the Foothill College Veterinary Technology Program
A rigorous combination of classroom lecture, hands-on lab assignments and on-site clinical experiences, the Foothill College Veterinary Technology Program is one of only seven such programs in California, and the only program accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association Committee on Veterinary Technician Education & Activities serving the greater San Francisco Bay Area. The program is a demanding and academically challenging two-year accredited program that trains and prepares students for employment as registered veterinary technicians. Graduates who complete the 92-unit program earn the Foothill College Associate in Science Degree in Veterinary Technology, and are then eligible to take the California State Registered Veterinary Technician Licensing and Veterinary Technician National examinations. Learn more at www.foothill.edu/bio/programs/vettech/.
About the Police & Working K-9 Foundation
The Police & Working K-9 Foundation is an all-volunteer organization that is dedicated to ensuring that communities in California are able to provide support for their hard-working law enforcement canine teams. The group sponsors the popular Cover Your K-9 annual fundraiser that to date has generated more than $400,000 to provide customized ballistic vests for more than 130 K-9s, as well as more than 300 K-9 trauma kits, heat alarms for K-9 vehicles, and emergency care for numerous retired K-9s. Learn more about the Police & Working K-9 Foundation and the upcoming Pet Food Express “Cover Your K-9” fundraiser on July 20–21 at www.coveryourk9.org.