‘Going to the dogs’: Metro nonprofit helping protect police K-9s with vests, other needs

HARRISONVILLE, Mo. -- FOX4 continues "Working for Blue” as our mission to help protect those who protect and serve all of us.

Not only do police officers put their lives on the line, so do dozens of K-9s that work with them. There's a fairly new organization based in the Kansas City area committed to keeping them cared for and safe.

Harrisonville Police Officer Matt McCulloch is proud of his K-9 partner.

“He’s the best partner I could ask for. He’s always got my back,” McCulloch said.

He and K-9 Uxo have spent countless hours training. When McCulloch makes a traffic stop, Uxo stays put until he’s called.

“If they’re more nervous than most people, then I’ll get the people out and take Uxo up there with me and run him around the car,” McCulloch said.

He's able to sniff out four major drugs, and if he finds one, he lays down and stares at the area he’s detected something. Since coming to the department in 2017, Uxo's helped pull a lot of drugs off the streets.

Uxo

But bringing a K-9 into a smaller agency like Harrisonville PD is challenging.

To get Uxo job-ready, $30,000 in private funding was raised. So when he needed a pricey dog house and kennel, the department teamed up with local nonprofit, "Going to the Dogs."

“They’re wonderful, very supportive, and it’s nice to have,” Harrisonville Police Chief John Hofer said.

Going to the Dogs was founded in 2015, specifically to help law enforcement K9s. The organization has helped buy dogs and equipment and specializes in K-9 protective vests.

“People are surprised, first of all, that handlers don’t buy a vest. Well, that's not in the budget,” said Donna Wilson, founder and executive director of Going to the Dogs.

Vests for K-9s cost about $1,000, and they're a critical tool to keep K-9s safe in the line of duty.

“We want to make sure they have the same level of protection as their handler does,” Wilson said.

So far, Going to the Dogs has helped buy 36 vests and supported dozens of agencies like Harrisonville with other K-9 needs. There’s even a retirement account called the 401K9 to help care for law enforcement animals after they can no longer work.

To keep funding new requests, the nonprofit relies on the community's support. K-9s like Uxo and his handler are incredibly grateful.

“I just feel really warm inside that I’ve done and possibly made a difference in the life of a K-9 and the fact they are protected and that vest is bullet-proof and stab-proof. So they, if anything is going to get them, that will protect them,” Wilson said.

If you’d like to help support police K-9s, you can donate to Going to the Dogs.

They’ve got two upcoming benefits.

A Celebrity K-9 Golf Classic is planned for April 25 at Creekmoor Golf Course in Raymore. A trivia night, Trivia PAWSuit, is set for May 15 at Thompson Barn in Lenexa. Pre-registration is requested for both events and can be done on the organization’s website.

In addition to helping our K-9 protectors, FOX4 is still “Working for Blue" for all law enforcement officers. You can learn more and donate at fox4kc.com/blue.

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