Weatherford Police Department’s K9 officer Jack has received a ballistic vest, courtesy of Weatherford’s Noon Lions Club.
Jack, a German Shepherd, has been working at WPD since the end of last year after being purchased through a grant.
The Noon Lions paid about $2,046 for the canine tactical custom ballistic K9 harness.
WPD Chief Lance Arnold said the vest arrived a few weeks ago.
The vest adds another layer of protection for Jack, Arnold said. Arnold mentioned an incident earlier in the year in which a North Richland Hills K9 was shot in the line of duty but survived in part because of its ballistic vest. Jack’s vest is similar to the North Richland Hills K9’s vest.
Community groups, including Noon Lions Club, reached out to WPD to ask if Jack had a vest, Arnold said.
Academy Sports and Outdoors donated tennis balls to the K9 unit; Home Depot gave buckets, pet supplies, and dog food; and the Weatherford Citizen Police Academy Alumni Association donated a special K9 medical kit, according to a post on WPD’s Facebook page.
“Having a group step up and offer to do that for us was outstanding,” Arnold said. “It’s hard to turn any groups down like that, that want to do something really cool like that. It just worked out in our favor, and we appreciate their help for sure.”
Noon Lions Club President Gail Wirtanen said club members wanted to do what they could to help the K9 program.
“The police dog is like an officer, he’s a public servant, and we wanted to protect him,” Wirtanen said.
K9s support the police force, can complete building searches quicker and have better senses than humans, Arnold said.
“It’s a good community relations tool, too,” Arnold said. “We were very fortunate in the fact that we have a dog that can do really quality patrol work and does tracking well, sniffs for contraband really well, but at the same time can go and visit children at an elementary school.”
Eventually, WPD would like to build on the K9 program with more dogs, Arnold said.
“We had had about a seven-year gap from our last K9 to the current one, and so we really wanted to get this first one up and running and kind of work out the logistics and training schedules and just building the knowledge base back up,” Arnold said. “I definitely think there’s a need in our community and definitely an opportunity in the future to add to our unit.”