Whatcom Magazine

Protecting four-legged police responders

Whatcom County Sheriff’s Deputy Jason Nyhus, who is active Keeping K-9s in Kevlar, poses with police dog Hyde. The dog’s protective vest has a patch honoring Matt Herzog, a Whatcom County deputy killed in a car chase in September 2001.
Whatcom County Sheriff’s Deputy Jason Nyhus, who is active Keeping K-9s in Kevlar, poses with police dog Hyde. The dog’s protective vest has a patch honoring Matt Herzog, a Whatcom County deputy killed in a car chase in September 2001. Courtesy to The Bellingham Herald

In her mind’s eye, Kendra Cook can see more than 100 police dogs throughout Washington protected as much as state-of-the-art technology allows.

That’s the reason she and Whatcom County Sheriff’s Deputy Jason Nyhus recently started “Keeping K-9s in Kevlar” to raise money for body armor vests for K-9s. A wing of the Whatcom County Sheriff’s Office Support Foundation, K-9s in Kevlar is dedicated to preserving the lives of trained police dogs that face the same dangers as human officers.

After securing their nonprofit status, they held a fundraising drive in September and October 2015 and raised $15,074, on top of money already raised for the first vest, Cook says.

“We are especially grateful for the strong support of Paul Razore, the president of Sanitary Service Co.,” she says. “I’ve never been so happy to pay my garbage bill.”

So far, a total of seven police dogs at Whatcom County Sheriff’s Office and Bellingham Police Department now have Kevlar protection, along with one dog at the Skagit County Sheriff’s Office. One more local dog is in line to receive a vest.

Each vest costs about $2,500 and are made by K-9 Storm in Canada.

These vests can handle shots from common guns, shrapnel and stabbings. These are the best-quality vests available.

Kendra Cook

Cook has loved animals since she was a child, and started a pet-sitting company while she was a senior at Bellingham High School. She’s also a strong supporter of law enforcement, so when she saw a story about a police department in Illinois gathering donations for canine vests, she decided she wanted to help locally.

“I was referred to talk with Jason, since he’s a canine handler,” says Cook, a 39-year-old Bellingham resident and the married mother of two.

As a law officer, Jason isn’t allowed to raise funds, Cook says, so she took on that role.

“Everything I do, I run it by Jason,” she says. “My goal throughout the state will be to raise funds for Kevlar vests for any dog Jason lists as needing protection, and he already has a list of 100.”

With the permission of families of fallen human officers, Cook and Nyhus place a patch honoring an officer on each dog’s vest.

“These vests can handle shots from common guns, shrapnel and stabbings,” Cook says. “These are the best-quality vests available.”

To help

Donations for Kevlar vests can be made to the Keeping K-9s in Kevlar account at Whatcom Educational Credit Union. Or mail donations to: Keeping K-9s in Kevlar, 3901 Airport Way, Bellingham, WA 98226.

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