I have been a frequent reader of the sight, but have now logged in. I foind this topic interesting. Our department went through an intense drive to protect our dogs and we were given vests for the dogs. I agree with most of the posts that were made by what I assume are experienced K9 handlers.
The vest are very cumbersome from a dog and would burn out a dog in a hurry....particularly in the summer. I also agree with Kevin Sheldahl in that most perps would assualt the dog in the head area. This is where the dog respesents the biggest threat to a perp. when they are sent to apprehend someone.
The only situation I would most likely use the vest in is if we had a contained subject in smaller area, where the search would be short in duration. However in most of those situations it would be up to an ERT or SWAT team that would be deployed and then is your dog trained to work with them???? Just some thoughts on the subject.
An organization called Pennies for Police Dogs tried to donate four vests to our agency. We declined the vests but accepted the money to be used for building an O-course. They were surprised that we didnt want the vests and someone with more tact than I had to explain why.
I know this is a very old post, but had to add my thoughts!
We recently had a K9 officer shot here in goodyear, az. The perp got both the officer & the dog. The officer is out on medical leave, and will be for some time. The dog also got shot, (though he didn't seem to notice it at all, lol) in the EAR. Sounds harmless, but my first thought was, "wow. Just a few inches lower...:shudder:" The perp ended up dead, dumb enough to keep shooting at the officers so he deserved it as far as I can see.
(For those local in AZ, you probably saw it on the news. Officer Ricky Melrose & K9 "Zip")
I don't think the vest would have helped much, even if he had one on. Vests do nothing for head shots, and with a dog, the head is the thing closest to you and easiest to hit.
Officer Melrose made a brief appearance at the k9 trials. They were collecting ink cartridges to raise money for vests at the trials too. In Phoenix, AZ I can't imagine that people don't realize how HOT any kind of vest on a dog is. I'm currently trying to design cooling dog beds and belly bands. It's hard to figure out coverage versus ease of movement versus ease of use.
My husband just informed me (he's friends with quite a few Goodyear officers, and kept close tabs on Ricky's incident) that someone donated a K9 vest/vests to the City of Goodyear after the shooting. I agree about the heat. It's hot enough here without a fur coat. I can't imagine a fur coat and a 2" BLACK vest!
I think the vest is a great concept (look how many human lives they've saved) but with dogs, they leave a lot to be desired. I think the best defence for the dog is the fact that they are so fast on the attack, that you have a low chance of aiming & firing before they're tearing into your gun arm. The restriction the vest causes does more harm than good, like so many others have said above.
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