Cardiologists donate K-9 bulletproof vest for Huntington Police Department

November 10, 2018
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Huntington police officer Joe Denning and K-9 officer Fritz are pictured on Thursday at the Huntington Police Department.

HUNTINGTON — Four-legged members of Huntington’s K-9 Unit will be a little more protected thanks to a donation toward a new bulletproof vest from two Marshall Health cardiologists.

Dr. Mark A. Studeny and Dr. Melissa D. Lester donated $2,500 to the Huntington Police Department to purchase a K-9 bulletproof vest, ensuring the department’s six dogs now have their own protection.

“We are highly appreciative of this,” said Police Chief Hank Dial. “These K-9 units are our partners, and it’s very important for us to keep them safe. They keep us safe and they keep citizens safe.”

Huntington’s K-9 Unit has seven specialized teams, six of which are dual-purpose and also serve as drug-detection dogs. The dogs are used in apprehending suspects posing a physical threat to police and citizen safety.

The bulletproof vest, purchased from Canada-based K9 Storm Inc., is made from the same Kevlar material used in human bulletproof vests and covers all the vital organs. The vest is bulletproof and stab-proof, and each one costs approximately $2,200 before taxes, according to the company’s website.

Studeny and Lester said besides being animal lovers, they wanted to give back to the first responders who serve an important role within the community.

“With the number of issues that your force is dealing with and we as health care providers are dealing with in the community, it was just a small token we could help one of your com-padres,” Studeny said.

On Thursday, Huntington police officer Joe Denning showed off the new vest on K-9 officer Fritz at the Huntington Police Department. The vests have side pockets to carry items and a handle for Denning to pick up the dog in an emergency. The vest also has an option to attach a camera similar to the human officers’ body cameras.

Being health care professionals helped them see how important police and EMS are to the community, Studeny said. He pointed to a recent leveling off of opioid-related overdoses as proof that everyone has a role to play in rebounding from an epidemic.

“With some of the crime issues and drug issues we currently have, the community is coming together to help fight that and change that,” he said.

Travis Crum Is a reporter for The Herald-Dispatch. He may be reached by phone at 304-526-2801.

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