ROCKLAND — He may be close to patrolling Knox County’s highways and byways as the K9 partner to Deputy Tim Davis. He may be 92 pounds of solid German Shepherd sharing the rough-and-tumble work load of badges, bullets, and steel with the rough-and-tumble family home he lives in. But, Marek is still a dog.
So, when Knox County’s first patrol dog – the previous two deputy canines for the county were strictly either tracking or drugs – was first strapped into his new bullet proof vest, his demeanor changed dramatically. Gone was the happy, high-tailing, in-your-face pup checking out everyone and everything. In turn was a sagging back and woeful eyes that tried to hide and slither from his approximately 5 pounds of entrapment.
Wednesday, Aug. 21, Marek received a K9 ballistics vest and a first-aid kit from Maine K9 Vests, a nonprofit organization out of Oxford that has been raising money to protect law enforcement canines throughout the state.
“We figured, they are out there protecting us and our kids and our parents,” said co-founder and dog lover Wayne Robichaud. “They should be safe out there.”
Wayne and Nicole Robichaud’s daughter started the vest donation in York County in 2009 as a high school senior project. The family then donated a few more before taking a hiatus. Just prior to Corporal Eugene Cole’s passing, the family started again, donating the next vest to Dave Cole’s dog.
In the last year, the Robichauds have outfitted ten dogs by promoting their cause on Facebook as well as placing donation jars at various businesses. In Marek’s case, along with the Robichaud’s promotion of Marek and two other dogs, word of mouth from Davis helped spread the word through the Knox County community.
For Marek, the online donation portal on the Facebook page opened May 13. The portal closed ten days later with $1,405 donated by 43 individuals, and the promise that any funds left over would transfer to the other dogs.
Each kit costs $1,500, and includes the customized level 3 bullet and stab proof vest, portable water bowl, oxygen masks, surgical stapler for lacerations, splints, travel packs, trauma pads, and having department patches made.
Maine K9 Vests has started going to community events around Maine. The Robichauds plan to attend the first Annual Pope Memorial Humane Society K9 Carnival, Saturday, September 28, from 10 a.m. - 4 p.m., at Harbor Park, in Rockland.
Reach Sarah Thompson at firstname.lastname@example.org