Deputy’s dog to get new bulletproof vest

Posted April 23, 2009, at 7:10 p.m.

CALAIS, Maine — Liberty not only will look snazzy once her new vest arrives, but she also will be safer.

Deputy Tommy Chambers of the Washington County Sheriff’s Department said this week that enough money has been donated to buy Liberty a bulletproof vest that costs $2,100.

Born Sept. 11, 2007, Liberty is a member of the K-9 unit of the Washington County Sheriff’s Department.

The deputy said Liberty needed to be outfitted in what is known as a K-9 Storm Tactical Armor Vest, which costs twice as much as the traditional vests most K-9 dogs wear. Chambers said the new K-9 vest is less cumbersome and does not restrict the dog’s movement as much as the traditional vest. Drug-sniffing dogs do a lot of tracking over rough terrain in rural areas, he said, making the increased movement allowed by the newer vest more desirable.

Media publicity about Liberty led to donations coming in from everywhere, he said. “Even from people out of state,” Chambers said. “We [received] just a little over $800 and Maine Vest-A-Dog donated the rest of the money.”

It all started last year when Sally Davis of Maine Vest-A-Dog contacted Chambers in September and offered to help get a vest for Liberty.

Davis’ daughter Kelly, who attends 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 bulletproof vest. It was based on the success of Vest-a-Dog programs in California and Massachusetts, the group says on its Web site.

In an e-mail to Chambers last year, Sally Davis said she helps her daughter with MeVAD while Kelly 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.

K-9 Liberty has been trained to sniff out drugs and already has some arrests to her credit.

Last week, Liberty sniffed out a Baileyville couple returning home on Route 9 from the Bangor area. When they were stopped, Liberty immediately alerted Chambers to drugs in the car. Police found a cache of drugs including cocaine and methadone.

Liberty should have her new vest in just a few weeks.

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