HICKORY, NC – Meet Rico. The five-year-old Dutch Shepherd is paired with Hickory Police Officer Pendleton. “I’ve had Rico three years, and I trust him and he trusts me,” Pendleton says. He says police dogs like Rico are known for their high energy and strong work ethic—putting themselves in harm’s way. “Sometimes we send out dogs into houses, into buildings, into the unknown,” he explains.
But there was one thing missing. “Few months ago, Officer Rico came in with blood on his fur,” says Vet Tech Kelly Essam. “When I got to talking to Officer Pendleton, I asked him if they had any protection, and he said no.” So Essam started a fundraising drive to buy bulletproof vests.
The Hickory Police Department has four canines. Viewmont Animal Hospital is now only a few hundred dollars away from buying vests for all of them. “I love these dogs. And I respect them,” Essam says.
“Feel a little bit better sending our dogs into unknown situations to search a building knowing they’ve got protection, from, you know, whether that be a knife, or weapon, or firearm,” Pendleton says.
Each vest costs close to a thousand dollars. But they say the price is worth it for what the dogs do.
“It’s our dog, but he’s our partner also, so it doesn’t take very long to build a very strong relationship with him,” Pendleton says. A relationship he says is irreplaceable.