By Rebecca Rose
SOCORRO – A woman from Socorro has once again made it possible to keep police dogs safe on the job. Two dogs in Hemet, CA are the latest to receive armored vest from Susie Jean and Vest ‘N.D.P organization.
The new body armor will be used by K-9s “Fritts” and “Rosco.” Derek Maddox, Rosco’s handler, applied for the vest donations from Jean several months ago. “Without a doubt, our K-9 partners obediently risk their lives every day to keep us out of harms way,” Maddox said, “The least we can do is try to protect them with the latest and best technology offered.”
Jean started the program in July 2002, moved by a news story about a police dog killed on duty. Since then, Vest ‘N P.D.P. has donated 554 vests to police units throughout the country.
Armored vests can cost upwards of $1,500, and are designed to resist gunshots and knives. Tight departmental budgets often make it difficult for police to purchase them.
Tough economic times have also meant a drop in donations. Jean relies completely on individual donations from the general public who call in, write or donate through the website. (the organization has never held a fundraiser). Despite the downturn in funding, demand from officers seeking to protect their K-9 partners is still high.
“Police dogs don’t know we’re in a bad economy,” Jean noted.
Currently, she is working with State Representative Don Tripp to promote a bill which would make it mandatory for police departments in New Mexico to provide vests to all working dogs that are put in harm’s way. Bill456 recently passed the House of Representatives, and now moves to the Senate. Jean says her dream is to have a national law requiring the same.
Donations to Vest ‘N P.D.P. can be made online at http://www.vestnpdp.com/ or by calling 575-838-1772.