Pooch protector

Published 11:59 pm Monday, July 27, 2009

Thanks to recent fund-raising efforts, a K-9 officer with the Covington County Sheriff’s Office has been chosen as the first recipient of a bulletproof vest.

Jamilla Hudson first announced the project in February after reading a story called “Protecting K-9 Cops” in The American Profile, an insert in The Star-News. It told the story of New Mexico resident Susie Jean and her non-profit organization Vest ‘n P.D.P. (Police Dog Protection). Since 2002, the organization has outfitted more than 260 vests for police dogs across the nation.

In February, Hudson said she hoped to increase that number by six in the coming months.

Thanks to various donations from private citizens and civic groups throughout the county, Hudson has raised $988 and can now reduce the number of needed vests to five.

“I sent the money to Susie Jean and she called me and told me that we had enough money to go ahead and get one vest,” Hudson said. “I told her I wanted to get all the vests at one time, but she said it would be best to go ahead and get the one vest so that at least one dog could be protected.”

Hudson said it was a hard decision to make, but ultimately she decided it would go to Kas, the K-9 partner of Sheriff’s Deputy Nic Ireland. The $700 vest will take approximately six to eight weeks to arrive and is expected to be here at the end of August.

Currently, Hudson is in the process of securing more funds so that the other K-9 officers in the county can have vests.

“There are other dogs in the county that need the vests,” she said. “I made a promise to those officers and I intend to keep it.”

Sizeable donations were given by the Shriner’s Club, the Andalusia Area Humane Society, Barbara Nelson of Second Home Boarding Kennel in Babbie and Kenneth and Gina Ireland, as well as other private donations.

To help raise more funds, donation cans are featured at a variety of local businesses, and a raffle will be held Aug. 7. The prize will feature a spay or neuter from Boothe Veterinary Clinic and a wide variety of pet-related items from businesses in Opp and Andalusia. Tickets are $1 each. Additionally, Gitty-Up-N-Go owner Roy Mohon has pledged to match the raffle’s proceeds, Hudson said.

Donations are tax-deductible and checks can be made payable to “vestnpdp” (with Andalusia, Opp, Covington County on memo line) and mailed to Jamilla Hudson, 18600 Grace Lane, Opp, AL 36467.