Life-saving vests to be delivered to SPD K9s at Run Like An Animal 5K

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SPD K9 Renzo, handled by Sgt. Dan Sawyer, models one of the customized ballistic vests that will be presented Saturday to all of the SPD K9 officers during the 2020 Run Like an Animal 5K. (Source: University Veterinary Hospital)

SHREVEPORT, La. (KTAL/KMSS) – Nine Shreveport Police Department K9 officers will receive specialized, live-saving ballistic vests Saturday in a ceremony set to take place during the University Veterinary Hospital’s Run Like An Animal 5K, but the veterinary hospital and supporters are also working to improve the final resting place for SPD K9s that have already passed away.

Click here for more details on the Run Like An Animal 5K.

“When we began caring for the Shreveport Police Department’s K9s, we discovered that the K9 Rest Cemetery was not in good condition. It was obvious that this was our next project. Thus, overnight Project K9 Rest was born,” said Dr. Catherine Foret of the UVH Foundation.

A photo of K9 Rest on the grounds of the Shreveport Police and Fire Academy before work to improve the cemetery began. (Photo: Catherine Foret/University Veterinary Hospital)

K9 Rest operates in association within the Shreveport Police Department. The cemetery is located at the Shreveport Police and Fire Training Academy on Greenwood Road and Dr. Foret says the UVH Foundation recognized the need for more care devoted to the well-being of the K9s laid to rest there at the conclusion of their dedication to the community.

Since then, the UVH Foundation has helped to raise the $19,250 needed to fully fund the K9 Rest Project. Local landscaping and lawn care service Jody’s Lawn Team came up with a low-maintenance design that allows the cemetery to respect the fallen K9s, as well as allow for future growth. The cemetery will also have a paved area with a bench and a flag pole, and ten K9 officers that were previously buried there in unmarked graves will eventually have headstones.

“The Shreveport Police Department’s human officers need a place to visit their passed K9 partners, and the K9 Rest Project looks to provide precisely that to the men and women, who devote their lives to the safety of the community,” according to UVH.

A ribbon-cutting for the improved K9 Rest Cemetery is expected in the Spring.

It was in the midst of fundraising for the K9 Rest project, Dr. Foret says they became aware of the lack of lifesaving equipment the K9 officers needed in their daily work. That led to the sponsorship drive to purchase ballistic protective vests and medical bags and Narcan kits for each officer, all of which will be presented at the Run Like An Animal 5K Saturday, along with a custom Shreveport Police Department K9 flag. The UVH Veterinarian Team will also be training each officer on proper equipment usage upon delivery.

The vests, at a cost of $1,050 each, are designed specifically for K9s to work comfortably and safely in the local climate, allowing them to keep cool and buoyant should they have to go into the water. Each family who sponsored the vests will present the vests to the K9 officers during a ceremony at 9 a.m. Saturday during the 5K event at the Stoner Skateboard Park in Shreveport.

In addition to continuing to support SPD’s K9 officers, the annual event hosted by UVH benefits local organizations dedicated to the health and well-being of animals and the community, including Paws4Life Caddo, which is a non-profit that takes dogs and cats out of shelters in the greater Shreveport-Bossier area and transports them to shelters in the midwest, where they don’t have as many adoptable animals. The run also benefits Shreveport-Bossier Animal Rescue, a non-profit feline-only no-kill shelter that works to provide shelter and medical care for felines while finding them homes.

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