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Stoneham Animal Hospital buys bulletproof vests for Reading Police comfort dogs

Jun 24, 2023Jun 24, 2023

By Mike Sullivan

Updated on: May 31, 2023 / 7:05 AM / CBS Boston

STONEHAM - In the line of duty, police therapy dogs can take a backseat when it comes to wearing protection. Stoneham Animal Hospital and their clients are outfitting two Reading K9 officers with new ballistic vests.

"We believe here that any dog that works at the police department should get a tactical vest," said Stoneham Animal Hospital Manager Trish Kovacev. "Therapy dogs are the bottom of the list. The search and ballistic dogs get first priority."

The two dogs work in Reading schools alongside their handlers who are resource officers. The dog's names are Cooper and Rusty.

"These vests are going to be piece of mind for us," said Reading Officer Matt Vatcher, Rusty's handler. "If we were to go to a crime scene, they would assist any victim of a crime in comfort or therapy. Reading has three dogs. Two are comfort dogs in training, and a search or tracking dog. The tracking dog just got his vest from Vest-A-Dog. There are certain grants that cover working dogs. We were lucky and got these dogs donated to us, so we are doing all of our funding ourselves."

Officer Vatcher hasn't heard of many police departments who have ballistic vests for therapy dogs. The protection is typically suited for tracking or working dogs; however, comfort animals can be in the line of fire.

"They are heavy. They are bulletproof, stab proof, slash proof," tells Kovacev. "The way things are now it's so scary. You never know with all the things we hear about schools."

Just last week there was a student who was stabbed at Lynn Classical High School.

"Violence in school is trending upwards in this country, so it is always good to have it," added Officer Vatcher.

It took six days for Stoneham Animal Hospital and their clients to raise the money for the vests. Each cost between $1,200 and $1,500, and they are tailored to the individual animal.

"We had one client come in and he said, 'How much until you get your goal?' He donated more than $300 to get to our goal," said Kovacev.

First published on May 30, 2023 / 6:29 PM

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