Friday, January 19, 2001

Thespians provide vest for K-9 cop

By Sheila McLaughlin
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        WEST CHESTER TWP. — Kizer could have used a little extra protection when he tracked down a bank robber who was hiding inside a Muhlhauser Road business last week.

        Thanks to the efforts of resident Sally Akey, a Warren County theater group and a national pet food manufacturer, the township police dog will have it next time he must nose out an armed suspect.

[photo] Police dog Kizer and his handler, Chris Witton, joins benefactors at presentation. They are (from left) Lara Strazden, Deb Giehl and Sally Akey.
(Enquirer photo)
| ZOOM |
        This week, Kizer became the third and last canine on the West Chester force to receive a special vest that will protect him from being injured or killed by bullets and knives.

        The Landen-Deerfield Theatre Company, which contributed proceeds from its recent production of You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown, teamed up with the Iams Co. to donate $500 so that Mrs. Akey could purchase one vest.

Next, Cincinnati
        Mrs. Akey began raising money last June to outfit police dogs in her community. So far Hunter and Bleske, the department's other working canines, use vests provided by Mrs. Akey's project, K-9 Foundation. West Chester's fourth dog, Franco, is semi-retired and searches for drugs only, so he does not need a vest, said his handler, Lt. Joel Herzog, who runs the canine unit.

        Now that West Chester dogs are suited up, Mrs. Akey said she'll try to do the same for another department's six canines.

        “Hopefully I can start on Cincinnati,” Mrs. Akey said. “It's just been slow in terms of donations.”

        She said she orders the vests for half-price through California-based International Armor, which is involved in the national Vest-A-Dog program, a nonprofit fund-raising effort that has provided vests for more than 100 dogs.

        The theater group latched onto the local K-9 Foundation after reading a recent newspaper article about protective vests for police dogs. Donations for vests can be made to the foundation at any Fifth Third Bank location.

        Deb Giehl, president of the theater group, said the company always contributes to a cause that fits in with its production.

        “That's what we feel community theater is about. We want to put the best show on as possible, but give something back to the community,” she said.


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