The Maine State Police force doesn’t just consist of two-legged troopers.
But unlike their human partners, K9s don’t have protective vests.
A woman in Sorrento is doing her part to change that.
Joy Hollowell explains.
“I was paired up with Winger on January 2nd.”
Trooper Christopher Smith calls Winger his partner in every sense of the word.
“I am with Winger more than I am with my family,” says Smith, with a smile.
The two-year old Belgium Malinois is trained in both patrol and narcotics.
“The majority of his calls for service or his work in the field are going to be potentially violent situations where there’s going to be someone either armed or waiting to do harm to me or somebody else,” explains Smith.
That’s why the Ellsworth trooper applied to have Winger outfitted with a protective vest.
“There are hundreds of dogs out there that have no protection,” says Madeleine Hamersley.
When the 83-year old Sorrento woman found that out, she contacted Vested Interest in K9s. The Massachusetts-based non-profit provides law enforcement dogs around the country with bullet and stab protective vests. Each one is $950, a cost many agencies just don’t have in their budgets.
“It surprised me, it shocked me that there was such a great need,” says Hamersley.
Hamersley, a former police officer herself, has sponsored 10 dogs with vests. Winger was her first.
“It’s very exciting to know we had such a positive impact on Madeleine,” says Smith. “She obviously liked him, so she wanted to help out some other dogs.”
Including Foster, a K9 with the Skowhegan barracks. He’ll be getting a vest in memory of Hamersley’s late husband.
“Those who are out in front need to be protected also,” Hamersley says.
Trooper Smith says that protection extends even beyond the badge.
“When we come home at the end of a shift, whether it’s midnight, 2, 3, 4 o’clock in the morning, as soon as he comes through the door, he immediately goes to my daughter’s room, touches his cold nose to her to make sure she’s in bed.”
NAT SOUND- WINGER PLAYING WITH TROOPER SMITH
“My daughter is old enough to understand the correlation between why daddy needs to wear a bullet proof vest to work and she’s very excited to know that Winger is going to be protected when he goes to work as well.”
For more information on sponsoring a K9 for a protective vest, log onto www.vik9s.org
You can also give them a call at 508-824-6978
Winger should be getting his vest later this year.
Each one takes 10 and a half weeks to custom-make.
Winger was named after Trooper Frank Wing with the Maine State Police. Trooper Wing passed away in the line of duty in 1928 in Millinocket.
A few years ago, Maine State police started naming all of their K9s after fallen officers.