COVINGTON - Representatives with the Conyers Kennel Club of Georgia Inc. were on hand at Covington Police Department headquarters Tuesday afternoon to officially present the department with a bullet/stab proof vest for their canine officers.
According to Don Watson, president of Conyers Kennel Club, law enforcement agencies have devoted a lot of time and money training canine officers, and he said his organization feels it's their civic responsibility to help out these agencies whenever they can.
"We realized some years ago that departments had purchased drug and guard dogs and that many local governments couldn't afford (bullet/stab-proof vests) for them," he said. "We love these dogs, and we would hate to see one of them get hurt."
Although they are called the Conyers Kennel Club, Watson said his organization covers a tri-county area, which includes Rockdale, Newton and Henry counties.
To date, the kennel club, which is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the well-being of dogs, has donated six vests to law enforcement agencies in this region, at a cost of about $1,000 each.
The CPD has two Belgian Malinois canine officers - Obi, who is between 3 and 4 years old and used for narcotics detection, and Ringo, who is 7 years old and used for patrol, as well as narcotics detection.
According to Ringo's partner, Officer Gene Nuqui, Ringo will more than likely be the only dog that will use the vest given as he is usually the one sent into situations where he may need the extra protection.
As part of his patrol duties, Nuqui said Ringo may have to clear buildings or search wooded areas for suspects, both of which would be situations in which the vest may come in handy.
In contrast, in those situations that require narcotics detection, Nuqui said police usually have those areas secured before the dogs are brought in, which would only make the vest a hindrance in those cases.
Nuqui also said the vest is not something they will leave on the dogs, as they will only be implemented in situations where there is a possible threat.
"Where we think it's dangerous, we would put the vest on and let (Ringo) go after them," Nuqui said.
Covington Chief of Police Stacey Cotton said he's appreciative of the kennel club's donation and how it will assist the canine officers.
"We're humbled by the fact that the community helps take care of our canines ... it speaks volumes about (the Conyers Kennel Club) and the public's support for what we do," Cotton said.
For more information about the Conyers Kennel Club and its programs, visit its Web site at www.conyerskennelclub.org.
Joel Griffin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.