By Rick Dayton

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – The death of a Pittsburgh Police K-9 officer last month has raised the issue of why those dogs don’t have protective vests.

Now, a Massachusetts-based company wants to change that.

The death of the K-9 officer Rocco has been felt across the country.

“We hope that in Rocco’s honor that we can save or help to prevent these tragedies from happening in the future,” Sandy Marcal said.

That includes a Massachusetts company founded in 2009 called Vested Interest in K-9s.

“I thought maybe it would be possible for me to organize events and band together with other animal lovers to see if we could meet the challenge of getting protection for these dogs that the department just wasn’t able to do,” Marcal said.

Sandy did that in 2009. Earlier this month, her organization donated three vests to the North Huntingdon Police Department.

By making this their mission, they keep their costs down.

“Actually it is a standard cost. We have a supplier that works with us and we have a government contract price for the vest. They are $950 and that’s a bullet and stab resistant vest and it has a five-year warranty,” Marcal said.

The non-profit organization is in the middle of a three-week fundraiser. Through Groupon grassroots sponsorship, people can make a tax deductible donation of $10, $25, or $50 that goes to Vested Interest in K-9’s.

“Right now, as of this morning, we were just about up to $245,000,” Marcal said.

That adds up to 257 vests for K-9 officers across the country with more than a week to go in their campaign. It also means Sandy’s group will have put more than 1,000 vests on dogs in less than five years.

“This is actually the fourth event we have done with Groupon. They are a great partner, and all of these donations go to us. There is no cost, there is no fee. It’s 100 percent of whatever people donate that is going towards the dogs,” Marcal said.

For more information about Vested Interest in K-9s, visit their website here.


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