PRESQUE ISLE – At the Presque Isle Police Department, canine crew members Hunter and Dozer are as much a part of the squad as their fellow police officers.
Both report to the station for work when scheduled and staff the police cruisers, and the two dogs respond to calls whenever they are needed.
Until recently, however, the dogs did not have a piece of equipment most officers consider vital – bulletproof vests.
But that has changed, thanks to students at Presque Isle Middle School.
The school’s Civil Rights Team recently initiated a fundraiser at the school to garner money to purchase a bulletproof vest for the dogs to share.
Students at the sixth- through eighth-grade school raised the $500 in five days to purchase the vest, Allison Reed, a social worker at the school and adviser for its Civil Rights Team, said this week.
According to Reed, the students conducted the fundraiser as part of Red Ribbon Week, which is the biggest drug prevention campaign in the nation.
“The kids really wanted to invest the money in the dogs. They were really excited about it,” she said. “The students accepted donations from their peers and teachers, and parents chipped in as well.”
Hunter, the department’s bloodhound tracking dog, joined the force in 2003. Dozer, a narcotics-detecting Labrador retriever, is the rookie canine, having joined the ranks in February.
The gear adjusts to fit both dogs, despite the fact that Hunter outweighs Dozer by approximately 30 pounds.
Presque Isle Police Chief Naldo Gagnon said that acquiring the vests was something Reed approached the department about.
“It was something we were happy to receive, because it was not something that we had money for in our budget,” he said. “We’re very happy. This is an extra layer of security for the dogs.”
Jen Lynds may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 532-9257.