East Palestine K-9 will get protective vest

EAST PALESTINE – The stabbing of a police dog in Pittsburgh last month has led to a campaign for ballistics vests for other K9 units.

The East Palestine Police Department has applied and been approved for a vest for its own canine officer, Toney, who joined the department in September of 2012.

A press release issued by Chief Kevin Dickey said the department will receive the ballistic vest thanks to a nationwide Groupon Event, which Patrol Officer Jen Calko found online.

Calko found Vested Interest in K9’s Inc. on Facebook and applied for the vest with assistance from Toney’s handler, Sgt. Don Johnson, according to the release.

“This vest will provide protection for K9 Toney while she is performing her duties alongside her partner,” Dickey said.

The “Occasions” campaign for Groupon Grassroots was put on after K9 Rocco from the Pittsburgh department was killed on Jan. 29 while attempting to apprehend a dangerous suspect, he added.

Vested Interest in K9’s Inc. is based out of East Taunton, Mass. and is a nationwide non-profit organization and charity partner that initiated the campaign on Feb. 15 to raise money to purchase 100 vests for K9’s across the country.

The campaign ends on March 5, and was already extended from Feb. 26 due to the outpouring of support – $120,000 raised in three days alone, according to the release.

For each $950 raised a K9 will be outfitted with a ballistic vest, which will be embroidered with “In Memory of K9 Rocco, Pittsburgh Police Department.”

The groupons can be purchased at www.groupon.com/k9s.