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July 06, 2015

More K-9s in South Jersey receiving body armor

More K-9s in South Jersey will be protected with the addition of new body armor, the Press of Atlantic City reports.

After a police dog in Egg Harbor Township was wounded during a 2013 shooting, the Pleasantville Police Department decided to make a greater effort to obtain body armor for its dogs.

"That drove home to us how important vests are, but, frankly, it was the K-9 officers in the K-9 unit that really pushed this through and made it happen to get the vests, because that's their partner," acting Pleasantville Chief Sean Riggin told the Press of Atlantic City

"While obviously it's important to us as a department to make sure that they are safe, it's important to them both professionally and personally because it's not just their dog, it's their partner. Our whole community is safer because of those dogs... The dogs keep the officer safer. The vests keep the dogs safer."

While some police departments nationwide struggle mightily to raise funds to provide body armor for their K-9s, the law enforcement agencies in Atlantic, Cape May and Cumberland counties have been able to supply body armor for most of the dogs that need them.

Riggin said that Pleasantville has three K-9 dogs, all of which now have vests. Pleasantville received its K-9 body armor for free from the nonprofit Vested Interest in K9s organization, based in Massachusetts. 

Scott Winneberger, a sergeant with the Galloway Township Police Department, said all dogs except one have body armor in Atlantic County, adding that vests can be costly. A custom-fit ballistic vest for a patrol or SWAT dog can cost more than $2,000.

Read more from the Press of Atlantic City.