There is little doubt that the K9 units of state police departments face some of the most dangerous situations in police work - from literally chasing down and capturing armed criminals to sniffing out contraband in the dangerous environment of a drug house.
Whitney Woods, a middle school student living in Proctorsville, has made it a personal goal to make sure these hardworking police dogs are protected as much as possible.
To that end, Whitney has been raising funds to provide all of the dogs in the Vermont State Police K9 Units with the latest in bullet proof vest technology. The equipment is not provided by the police force, but must be purchased by the individual dog handler.
Whitney became interested in her project through a family friend, State Police Officer Kevin Hughs and his dog Bohdan, and hearing about a dog in Rutland that had been shot at. The three have done a number of obedience classes and demonstration fundraisers over the last several months, and so far have raised $2360. They've been able to buy vests for four dogs, and have four more to go to cover all the dogs in the state.
"We've been buying a newer, lighter model of vest," Whitney said. "It's $100 more than the first ones we looked at, but they come with a reflector and a handle on the back so the officer can help them get over things like fences. They're lighter so the dog can wear them longer. We wanted the best for the dogs."
Whitney said she is creating a foundation website and linking it to the Vermont K9 Association where people can donate directly online.
The site will be available at www.bulletproofwhitneysfriends.webs.com. People can also call 226-7512 for more information, or send donations to PO Box 111, Proctorsville, VT 05153.