A Missouri State Highway Patrol officer received a gift from a special foundation Thursday morning.
After taking his present, the four-legged officer walked around the patrol building showing it off. It was a bullet- and safety vest.
K-9 Cipo, along with Sgt. Mark Wilhoit, received the donation from Donna and Jim Wilson with the Going To The Dogs Foundation as an event that took place at Troop H Headquarters located at 3525 N. Belt Highway.
The patrol quickly strapped the dog inside the roughly five-pound jacket and he immediately was better protected.
“In the course of the duties day in and day out, Cipo is a dual-purpose dog. " Sgt. Jake Angle said.“He's trained in handler protection, narcotics protection, and tracking. In the course of those duties, on any given day he's put in harm's way tracking fugitives, searching cars and protecting Mark while he's out doing his duties every day. So he's put in harm's way a lot, and with this generous donation (Thursday). It's going to help protect him as he goes about his duties day in and day out."
Donna began the foundation two years ago and is in the process of donating reflective safety vests to all 10 patrol dogs in the state.
Her goal is to continue to make the officers safer. Three K-9s have died in the past two weeks in the line of duty, all by gunfire — Rooster of Wichita, Kansas, on March 18; Roscoe of Crowley, Louisiana, on March 22; and Rico of Alaska on March 26.
The reflective vests cost about $1,000 apiece. With it weighing so light, she said more departments are starting to warm up to the idea of strapping the dogs with safety garments the way human patrol officers are kept safe.