K-9 Officers like Genoa Township’s Belgian Malinois, Ben, are often the first officer to approach dangerous suspects, and usually lack protective gear like his handler, Officer Mike Sigman, wears.
However, thanks to a donation by Christy Addington, Independent Director with Thirty One Gifts, and Dawn Leonard and Steffanie Schaffer of 4 Healthy Paws, Ohio, Ben now sports a protective bulletproof vest.
A press release notes that Ben was selected to receive the vest after his picture was featured on the Police Department’s Facebook page.
Each K-9 vest costs up to $2,600, but Addington was able to partner with the Ohio Chapter of Vesting America’s Police K-9s to work directly through the manufacturer to acquire the vest for a reduced cost of $800.
Addington, Leonard, and Schaffer held a craft show at the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 9 as a fundraiser and contributed commissions and proceeds from their private businesses. The team of women earned enough in the past year to vest their first K-9, Tazer of New Lexington; followed by Havik of Heath; and now Genoa Township’s own K-9, Ben.
“Genoa Township remains a nice place to live because of generous people like Christy,” said Trustee Rick Carfagna. “The safety of our police officers is paramount, and on behalf of our community we are grateful for Christy’s donation of a bulletproof and stab-resistant vest for Ben.”
Police Chief Steve Gammill said the township’s K-9 unit is especially important for drug detection and apprehension of suspects.
“Officer Sigman and Ben truly are partners who work together to protect the community,” Gammill said.
Ben was acquired to support the Police following the retirement of K-9 Officer Gandolf in May of this year. Officer Sigman describes Ben as energetic and work-driven, with a desire to please.
In the short time Ben has been a part of the Genoa PD team he has aided in the discovery of cocaine, heroin and marijuana, as well as the apprehension of criminal suspects.
Reporter Lenny C. Lepola can be reached at 614-266-6093.