MILTON, Ga. – A fundraising campaign is currently underway to ensure the only four-legged member of the Milton Police Department stays safe – and cool – on the job.
Project Paws Alive is spearheading the effort to purchase a complete package of protective equipment for Kyro, the Milton PD’s K-9 officer. The equipment includes a ballistic vest, field trauma kit, cooling vest, work boots, vehicle alarm system and oxygen masks – all of which will be specifically fitted for Kyro.
Cheryl Allen, president of Grayson-based Project Paws Alive, said the campaign to raise funds for Kyro is necessary since most law enforcement agencies depend on donations to operate their K-9 units.
“People assume this equipment is standard issue to K-9s because they are sworn officers; [but that is not the case],” said Allen. “Due to the high cost of these items, many departments are unable to provide them.”
The entire package of protective gear is estimated to cost about $6,000, which is the goal Allen has set for the Milton Police Department. To date, just under $1,000 has been raised through website donations, and additional fundraising opportunities are being finalized for the department.
“This project is important to us because it’s the reason why Project Paws Alive exists,” said Allen, who has helped numerous other law enforcement agencies through the program. “K-9s are often sent into violent and unstable situations first, [and] deserve to be protected just as much as their human officer partners.”
Kyro is an 18-month-old German Shepherd and is the second K-9 to serve the Milton PD. He was named by his handler, Officer Chris Ward, in tribute to the K-9 who accompanied U.S. troops on the mission to find Osama Bin Laden.
The benefits to having a K-9 officer in the department, besides the public relations component in the community, are numerous, said Capt. Shawn McCarty.
“They can track missing persons, find narcotics and other evidence items and help quickly find and chase down suspects, among other advantages,” he explained.
Ward was selected by McCarty to be Kyro’s handler, and received 240 hours of training to work with the police dog.
While the need for a bulletproof vest is apparent, the cooling vest and vehicle alarm system are equally important for K-9s that work in hot climates, such as Georgia, said Allen.
“If an [emergency] condition is detected, the unit will activate the horn, siren and light-bar, and dual window drop,” she explained. “It not only makes automatic corrective actions to the heat, it audibly and visually alerts everyone nearby. As a last measure, the system will open the vehicle door, allowing the K-9 to exit.”
The alarm also works in cold temperatures in the event the dog is in danger.
For more information on the Project Paws Alive campaign for the Milton PD, or to make a tax-deductible donation for the equipment, visit http://projectpawsalive.org/miltonk9/. Allen said 100 percent of the donations will go toward the equipment.