Rosalie Fox photo
The Community College of Vermont’s Introduction to Sociology class in Rutland is raising funds to purchase protective vests for police dogs. Sgt. Matthew Prouty of the Rutland Police Department and his dog, Otto, recently visited the class.
Canines have been a main topic of conversations at the Community College of Vermont as three classes recently banded together to educate themselves and the public on the importance of police dogs in Vermont.
Partnering with the Vermont Police Canine Association, a nonprofit corporation dedicated to providing financial assistance for the needs of police service dog teams throughout Vermont, the group set out with the goal of raising adequate funds to purchase one or more protective vests for canines working in the state.
The fundraising initiative started as a Service Learning project proposed by CCV Introduction to Sociology teacher Rosalie Fox. Students quickly became enthused about the idea and took it upon themselves to put it in motion.
Fox then invited her Dimensions of Learning class and Duane Tompkin’s Introduction to Criminology class to join their initiative.
“Police dogs are needed more and more to help keep our officers safe,” said Fox, who assisted in a similar project in Massachusetts with her daughter.
Fox frequently reminds her students of the importance of being an engaged community member and saw the police dog project as an opportunity to do good locally.
“We are society,” she said. “We are the only ones who can make things happen.”
To raise money, the group has created fliers to hang around the community educating locals on the cause, as well as partnered with local businesses to help meet their fundraising goal.
Genesis Healthcare has become a major sponsor for the project, hosting a benefit breakfast to raise funds. Staff members and residents also volunteered to create a dog-themed quilt to raffle off.
Wagatha’s Organic Dog Biscuits in Manchester has also taken an interest in the cause, providing healthy dog treats to those who donate.
“We are all very passionate about the project,” said CCV student Jen Kavanaugh, who is enthusiastic about making a difference in her community.
Kavanaugh is confident that she and her classmates can surpass the needed amount for one vest and hope to help many Vermont police dogs.
“Raising money for something innocent, like a dog, is so rewarding,” she said.
A sufficient canine vest would total approximately $1,200, almost triple the cost of a common bulletproof vest warn by law enforcement officers around the country.
Police dog vests cost significantly more because they are individually measured to fit the specific canine, making each usable for only one dog. Once a police dog retires, the vest must also be retired due to the custom fit and limited useful life of the vest.
Many Vermont police departments do not have the budget to afford this kind of commodity, making fundraisers such as this vital.
On Thursday, Sgt. Matt Prouty of the Rutland Police Department and his 6-year-old Doberman pinscher police dog, Otto, visited the sociology class for an informational lesson on canine safety.
Prouty used the time to explain to students the important role that police dogs play on the force and the challenges of keeping them safe in the line of duty.
“Canines play a huge role on the force,” said Prouty, passionate about the cause. “They deserve the same protection as officers.”
Prouty said he is pleased to see the students’ dedication to the project and hopes their efforts will shed light on the importance of protecting police dogs.
Thus far the group has raised more than $400 for their cause and plan to present the Vermont Police Canine Association with a check for the full amount of at least one vest by the end of the school year.
“Every donation can make a difference,” said Fox. “No matter how small.”
Donations for the project can be sent to the Community College of Vermont, 60 West St., Rutland, VT 05701, with checks payable to the Vermont Police Canine Association.MORE IN Local & State
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