Pet Food Express gives Police Foundation $7,400 for K-9 unit

May 27, 2011

Mercury News dot com, Carol Rosen

The parking lot at Pet Food Express on Blossom Hill Road May 18 was filled with a number of police cars, a large number of men dressed in camouflage and two beautiful German shepherds.

It wasn't because of a robbery or another crime, but to provide the San Jose Police Foundation with $7,400 raised at the pet food store's grand opening the first weekend in March. The foundation will give the money to the San Jose Police Department's Canine Unit for bulletproof vests, training equipment and first aid kits for the dogs.

The Police Foundation puts on annual fundraisers to provide the police with the funding, assistance and resources necessary for San Jose's quality of life. The Canine Unit, part of the Police Department's Special Operations, is made up of two teams of officers with five dogs for each team and two supervisors. The officers commit to seven years with the team. The specially bred and trained German shepherds cost $5,000 to $7,000 each.

These dogs search for fleeing felons, conduct building searches, provide assistance for patrol officers, as well as perform community demonstrations and help make arrests when criminal violations occur.

The $7,400 will pay for bulletproof vests, priced at $2,100 each, for the dogs as well as different types of equipment including canine trauma kits at $300 each, tactical equipment bags at $150 each and rappelling lines at $200 each. The vests prevent bullet and puncture wounds but are flexible enough that the animals can do their work.

Pet Food Express' fundraising with the Police and Working K-9 Foundation came about when Pet Food Express founder Michael Levy and Mike Murray, the company's community affairs director, met with Louis Tully and Steve LeCoube at a dog show in 2009. The Police and Working K-9 Foundation is a nonprofit group that provides safety equipment and training for police dogs. LeCoube, the group's president, spent 20 years as a canine handler for the Sacramento Sheriff's Office. Cover Your K-9 Friends is a program under the auspices of the foundation.

Pet Food Express holds an annual fundraiser each fall that makes about $100,000, which is given to Cover Your K-9 Friends for equipment and helping with the cost of the animals. In addition, they hold specific fundraisers throughout the year to help subsidize Bay Area police departments K-9 units.

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