Vested interest

Man donates money to buy K-9 officer's vest

Posted: Monday, April 25, 2005

 

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  Sean Shoemaker (holding the new vest), his father, David Shoemaker, and family members Joshua Croze and Ty Shoemaker (kneeling), made a donation to purchase the vest for K-9 officer Kazan and his human handler, trooper Brad Nelson. The donation was made in memory of Dawn Shoemaker. Photo by Joseph Robertia

Kazan, a 7 year-old Belgian Malinois and K-9 officer stationed at the Soldotna E Detachment post of the Alaska State Troopers, recently received a more than $1,200 donation that allowed for the purchase of a bulletproof and stab-resistant vest to protect the dog in its duties of fighting crime and providing public safety on the Kenai Peninsula. Kazan is handled by Trooper Brad Nelson with the Soldotna E Detachment.

Photo by Joseph Robertia

Nikiski resident David Shoemaker and his family have a vested interest in the safety and well-being of the Kenai Peninsula's only law enforcement dog.

Shoemaker recently donated more than $1,200 to purchase a bulletproof and stab-resistant vest for K-9 officer Kazan, a 7-year-old Belgian Malinois that has been stationed at the Soldotna E Detachment post of the Alaska State Troopers since 2001.

Shoemaker said the donation was made in memory of his wife, Dawn Shoemaker, who died three years ago after a battle with adrenal gland cancer.

"Animals were her passion," Shoemaker said. "She was the owner and operator of Tailwaggers Grooming Shop in Soldotna. She was active in pet rescue and the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. She loved caring for animals of all kinds."

 

Sean Shoemaker (holding the new vest), his father, David Shoemaker, and family members Joshua Croze and Ty Shoemaker (kneeling), made a donation to purchase the vest for K-9 officer Kazan and his human handler, trooper Brad Nelson. The donation was made in memory of Dawn Shoemaker.

Photo by Joseph Robertia

In wanting to give back to the community that gave him so much support during and after the loss of his wife, while simultaneously honoring his wife's agenda of helping animals, Shoemaker decided purchasing the vest was the right thing to do.

"Had she been alive, she would have done it without hesitation," he said.

Trooper Brad Nelson, Kazan's handler, said he believes his canine partner deserves the best protection available.

He has long championed the cause to purchase Kazan canine ballistic body armor, but with state and trooper budget crunches, funds for such a purchase were not easy to obtain.

As such, he said he is very grateful for Shoemaker's contribution.

"To have someone from the community — especially unsolicited — want to do something like this — it really means a lot. The Shoemakers aren't just Good Samaritan's, they're good people," Nelson said.

Nelson added the vest is an invaluable piece of gear when it comes to his and Kazan's duties of crime fighting and ensuring public safety.

"When dealing with the criminal element, you never know what you'll run into," he said.

The vest for Kazan is a sound financial investment, since the Dutch-born and trained dog cost $4,000 to purchase from Holland and bring to the United States.

Nelson said the vest is priceless since it gives him the peace of mind that his partner is safer. If Kazan is safe, he is able to help protect Nelson, other troopers and the community.

Kazan, as a canine officer, takes the place of — by some law enforcement estimates — five human officers.

"Kazan's duties include narcotics detection, locating lost or missing persons, locating suspects in hiding at a crime scene, perimeter patrol for serving warrants and tracking a suspect that flees the scene," Nelson said.

Kazan is proficient at all these duties, but the latter is what Kazan really excels at.

"He can track like nobody's business," Nelson said.

K9 Storm, the Canada-based company that manufactures the canine ballistic body armor, states on its Web site that the vests have saved the lives of several police dogs shot in the line of duty.

One testimonial involves an Auburn, Wash. Police Department dog named Blitz who's life was saved by wearing a vest.

Andy Suver, Blitz's handler, states on the site, "... The suspect turned and fired at least seven rounds from a .45 auto at a distance of less than 10 feet, but the dog kept fighting. We would subsequently learn that at least two rounds hit the vest. Blitz was not injured and continued the fight, putting the suspect down ... ."

Law enforcement agencies estimate that more than a dozen police dogs die each year in the United States while they serve and protect their communities.

"They serve us by protecting our lives, so it's nice to be able to give back in a way that may save theirs," Nelson added.



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