HUBBARD, Ohio (WYTV) – The Learning Dog in Hubbard hosted a fundraiser on Saturday night to raise money for two bulletproof canine vests for the Sharon and Shenango Township Police Departments.
After a process lasting one and a half years, Patrolman Ken Gutherie will be gaining a companion on Monday; a police canine named Chester.
Chester will be used in patrol work and scent detection. The dog will not only accompany Gutherie at the station, but also at home.
“This dog will be a family member,” he said.
The vest is a vital part of Chester’s safety. According to the Officer Down Memorial Page, five canine officers were shot or stabbed to death while on duty in 2016. Recent canine deaths in Canton and Wilkinsburg inspired Saturday’s fundraiser.
“They just don’t have enough money to buy these vests, and they’re very expensive. We thought we could do something for the community, throw something together and hopefully raise enough for them,” said The Learning Dog owner Jennny Falve.
She reached out to police in the Mahoning Valley, but those departments said they didn’t need vests.
The vests aren’t cheap; they cost $2,500 a piece. Sharon’s canine unit is based solely on donations. Vests, vehicles, training equipment and dog treats are not provided by city funds.
“To me, that dog is the same as one of my fellow officers, so I consider it very, very important,” Gutherie said. “Without [the community], this wouldn’t be possible at all.”
The fundraiser brought in at least $4,500, which is enough to provide Sharon with a canine vest. The rest will go to Shenango Township.
Sharon’s police dog will be available to all of Mercer County, and they’re still working to see which Ohio departments will be included in the mutual aid.