Vest a K-9 Fest provides funds, support for police dogs

GREENFIELD (WITI) -- A dog may be man’s best friend, but for police officers they’re protection and a first line of defense. On Saturday, July 20th local law enforcement teamed up with the Milwaukee Emergency Center for Animals to help ensure their safety.

Animal lovers of all ages came out to the second annual Vest a K-9 Fest where families and children got a chance to learn about the dogs firsthand. The event also raised funds for Wisconsin police K-9’s.

“We want our son to know K-9’s are nice pets, but we also want to have him realize they are police officers. It’s important to support them and help protect them,” said Rodney Ventura. “We are really excited to help support them in any way we can by buying t-shirts or getting our picture taken with the dogs on a motorcycle.”

Dr. Marla Lichtenberger, the owner of MECA added,  “These dogs have a very short working life of about eight, nine years, so these guys all need new dogs. We’re raising awareness so we can get new dogs and new vests.”

A demonstration showed just a glimpse of the agility and acts K-9’s perform. Sgt. Scott Zienkiewicz said it’s crucial that their dogs have bullet resistant and stab proof vests.

“These dogs are the first line of protection for us. These dogs go into buildings when we don’t know what’s in there. If we get to a broken in door, we’re not going to send an officer in, we are going to send a dog in and they’re going to look for these guys and you never know what they’re going to encounter," said Zienkiewicz.

With K-9 vests lasting for only about five years, and costing around $850 each, some dogs don’t even get vested, much less re-vested.

“We don’t have a lot of money in our budget to fund K-9 units, so we rely a lot on outside agencies to fund donations," added Zienkiewicz.

The K-9’s themselves cost anywhere from $14,000 to $20,000. Last year the event raised enough to help purchase a new K-9 for Greenfield and Greendale in addition to vesting other K-9 officers.

CLICK HERE to find out you can donate to the cause.