(Editor's note: An earlier version of this story erred in the spelling of Greg Burchett's name.)
Thanks to the kindness of a Whitesboro resident, the two Sherman Police K-9 officers are now equipped with body armor.
Greg Burchett donated two dog vests to the department Thursday afternoon that can protect officers Baak and Gunner from stabbings and most handgun rounds. Each vest costs about $1,000, and Burchett said these vests are the ones he would put on his own dogs if they were in this position.
“I’ve been able to save up some money, and I was looking for a way to give back to the community,” Burchett said. “I’ve got several dogs, and I see a lot of things on the news about K-9s getting hurt or killed. So I thought If I could find an agency that needed some help, I could afford to do it.”
Burchett also recently donated a harness to the Whitesboro K-9 officer, and he said he just called around until he found an agency that was interested.
Baak, 9, and Gunner, 4, are both from the Czech Republic and serve dual purposes. They can sniff out narcotics and assist in criminal apprehensions. Sherman Police Cpl. Kaleb Edwards, the handler of Baak, said these vest are kind of a new concept, but a lot of departments are turning to them.
“We go into high risk environments all the time with these dogs, so the vests are there just like we wear a vest,” Edwards said.
Edwards said the vests are greatly appreciated as Baak is like his child.
“He’s like my kid; he goes everywhere I go,” Edwards said. “He goes on vacation. Whatever he wants, he gets. We do everything together.”
Police Chief Zachary Flores said the K-9 officers are a large investment, and the department wants them to be as well equipped as a regular officer. He noted that the department doesn’t put the K-9 officers in unwarranted risk, but they come across dangerous situations just as other officers do.
“We equip our officers with everything they need and this is just another step that a member of the community took so that we can have our K-9s with what they need,” Flores said.
Edwards said the vests are definitely needed and the department is thankful for the donation.
“It’s greatly appreciated — it’s a good thing,” Edwards said. “I can’t thank him enough.”