CALAIS, Maine — Liberty may be a pretty little thing, but don’t let her looks fool you.
Liberty, the Lab, is a trained specialist who knows her business.
Liberty, born Sept. 11, 2007, is a member of the canine unit of the Washington County Sheriff’s Department, along with her handler and friend Deputy Thomas Chambers.
Chambers wears a bulletproof vest under his tan shirt, but Liberty faces danger without one.
The deputy hopes to change that.
Sally Davis of Maine Vest-A-Dog contacted Chambers in September and offered to help get a vest for Liberty.
Davis’ daughter Kelly, who is a sophomore at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, began the MeVAD program in Bath in 2000. Her goal is to have every K-9 dog in the state wearing a ballistic vest.
In an e-mail to Chambers, Sally Davis said she helps her daughter with MeVAD while she is in school.
The young Davis started the program when she was 11 years old and since then has raised thousands of dollars. She has won numerous awards including the Prudential Spirit of Community Award in 2007, from the Prudential Foundation, according to MeVAD’s Web site.
The deputy said Liberty had been trained to sniff out drugs and already has some arrests under her paws. She continues training and soon will be certified in tracking.
A vest is needed.
“When she is on a track involving a suspect, to her there is no difference whether she is searching for a lost child or a suspect. Obviously, that is a real safety concern for me as her handler that she could walk right up on a suspect and she could be assaulted,” Chambers told Davis in his e-mail to her.
The deputy said Liberty needed to be outfitted in what is known as a K-9 Storm Tactical Armor Vest, which costs $2,000, twice as much as the traditional vests that most K-9 dogs wear.
He said the K-9 vest was less cumbersome and did not restrict the dog’s movement. “This vest is [designed] so that the dog can climb under and over trees. It has a tracking device in it and protects all of the dogs vital organs,” he said. “To include everything from gunshot to a stab or a baseball bat.”
Money already has been donated.
“Last year, some residents in Lubec, after we had arrested a local drug dealer, donated money towards Liberty for a vest for her,” he said. “So with that money that was donated a savings account was set up for K-9 Liberty,” he said. MeVAD has donated $1,500, he added.
An additional $400 is needed.
Donations may be sent to the Machias Savings Bank in care of K-9 Liberty or sent to the Washington County Sheriff’s Department. Any money donated over what is needed will be turned over to MeVAD, the deputy said.