The Owasso Police Department has four K9 units and none of them have bulletproof vests, but an Owasso business is working to change that.
It’s been nearly ten years since the last bulletproof vests for the K9s were bought, and organizers hope the community steps forward to help the city's four-legged officers.
Vests do expire - on average only lasting five years. So, although, the dogs continue to work as hard, they don't have the added protection they may need.
At six years old, Officer Samson takes his training and strength to work each day; the only protection is his human officers backing him up.
"They go in first, they find the suspect. They’re tasked with grabbing the suspect, and they don't have the same protection as officers in many cases," said Lieutenant Nick Boatman, with Owasso Police.
Often suspects hide in the dark, and officers don't know what kind of weapons they may have, so K9s like Samson will push forward.
Boatman said, "They are going to follow the commands of the handler no matter what those commands might be. So they may not have the choice to say, ‘No, I'm not going into this situation,’ or think about critical thinking at the time; they just follow command."
That threat is why Marty Wilson, the Southern Agriculture pet store manager, chose to do something about it.
"Every dollar I get I think of Brit and those other four dogs out there without proper vests, and, sorry, it worries me, it really does. We are starting to see the violence here, and we need to get them protected," she said.
Ten years ago, when the business was in its early stages, Wilson raised enough cash to get vests for the Owasso K9s.
“I’m sitting here one day and the chief comes in and shakes my hand, and he says 'we never told you thank you for what you did,' and I started to cry, and he said, 'do you think you can help us again,'" Wilson said.
On average, each vest costs $1,000; there are four K9s and the department is hoping to get another.
So far, nearly $2,000 has been raised but another $3,000 is needed.
Wilson said if everyone in Owasso gave a dollar the goal would be reached. She said it's a small, but necessary, sacrifice to help keep officers like Samson safer.
"You wouldn't send a human without proper protection, so we need to get these boys their vests," she said.
Southern Agriculture is working with the group Friends of Owasso Police to get the fundraising done. The two groups will then present a check to the Owasso Police.
Donations for the vests can be made at the Owasso Southern Agriculture store.