Vests give police dogs a layer of protection

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Barbara Lathrop of Eagleswood Township presents two vests on behalf of the Vested Interest Fund to the Somers Point Police Department. With her from left are Mayor Jack Glasser, AMVETS Post 911 former Cmdr. Fred Vineyard of Egg Harbor Township, Cmdr. Jim Donahue of Ocean City, and Officers Rick Dill, Mark McElwee, Samuel Clerico, Dan Bryan and Gina Sambucci.
SOMERS POINT – Stepping in harm’s way is part of a police dog’s job. Now the city’s two K-9s have some protection, thanks to the Vested Interest Fund of the Associated Humane Societies.

AHS board member Barbara Lathrop came before City Council Thursday, May 24 to present two bulletproof and stab-proof vests for K-9s Sonny and Ozi through their respective handlers, Officers Mark McElwee and Rick Dill.
Lathrop, of Eagleswood Township, said the program began in 1994 as the result of the shooting death of Solo, a K-9 in the Monmouth County Sheriff’s Department. Since then, donations to the fund have provided more than a thousand vests for dogs throughout the country. They are provided at no cost to the city or the officers, she said.
“Somers Point is a lovely shore community, but they also have a police department that has a job to do. And dogs can only add to the protection of the community. Police dogs are a valuable asset,” Lathrop noted.
She said that to get a vest, all an officer has to do is contact the Humane Society’s Newark office
“Somers Point is to be congratulated for having the wisdom to recognize the value of police dogs in a community. They protect not only your police officers who work with them, but they protect your community and your citizenry,” said Lathrop.
Mayor Jack Glasser thanked Lathrop and the people who donated money for the vests, saying they are a great tool for law enforcement.”
AMVETS Post 911 in Somers Point had two representatives on hand to thank Lathrop for the donation. Cmdr. Jim Donahue said the post was happy to donate $50 to the fund.
“We know as a nonprofit how tough it is, and these folks rely on donations to continue their good work,” Donahue said. “AMVETS Post 911 raised the money for one of the dogs, and local business people raised the money for the other dog,” he said.
“When the dog is out there, they can come under fire and a number of things can happen – and these vests have been proven to protect the dogs. We think that is pretty important.”
City Council unanimously passed a resolution Thursday in support of the Vested Interest Fund and the efforts of AMVETS to bring the vests to the city through past Cmdr. Fred Vineyard of Egg Harbor Township. It was noted that the vests would have cost the city $2,000.
“This is something we really appreciate,” said City Council President Sean T. McGuigan.
Somers Point Police Chief Michael Boyd and members of the department also expressed their appreciation.
“We continue to say thank you to Jim and Fred for their support since the program was re-established in 2009. The entire Somers Point community is extremely supportive of our K-9 program, but Fred and Jim and the AMVETS go above and beyond with their support. We can’t thank them enough,” Boyd said.
For information about the Vested Interest Fund and Associated Humane Societies see

Photos by Shaun Smith

Officer Mark McElwee, Sonny’s handler, and Officer Rick Dill, Ozi’s handler, receive vests from Barbara Lathrop representing the Vested Interest Fund. At right is Mayor Jack Glasser.   Officer Rick Dill and K-9 Ozi stand outside the Somers Point Police Department.   Officer Mark McElwee holds the vest that his K-9 Sonny will wear on duty.   Officer Mark McElwee and K-9 Sonny play on the grass outside the Somers Point Police Department.   Officer Mark McElwee and K-9 Sonny play on the grass outside the Somers Point Police Department.   Officer Mark McElwee and K-9 Sonny play on the grass outside the Somers Point Police Department.

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