Hollister Police Department K-9 officer Dallas was the center of attention Wednesday when he was outfitted with a bulletproof vest, courtesy of Bill Westbrook, president of the Los Banos K-9 Association.
Westbrook, after he retired from 17 years of police work, started a nonprofit agency to raise money for the $1,200 custom-made vests for the safety and protection of police dogs. This was the fifth vest his organization has donated this year.
“The vests, that are made by the Armor Company in Michigan, are custom-made to fit each individual K-9 dog," Westbrook said during a ceremony at the Hollister Police Department. “There is a form with about 10 factors on it, including the dog's breed, weight and more, that are taken to ensure a perfect fit,” he said.
It takes between six to eight weeks to finish and deliver a vest.
According to Hollister Police Public Information Officer, Sgt. Don Pershall, a dog around six weeks old is involved in training in Monterey County, and then the police officer undergoes six weeks of training, as well.
“The officer continues to get training throughout his career,” Pershall added.
Hollister Police Officer Miguel Masso is the handler of Dallas, a German Shepherd, and he put the vest on his canine companion during the ceremony. Dallas is so-named to honor the fallen Dallas police officers who were killed on July 7, 2016.
Dallas appeared pleased about the attention on Wednesday and was a willing participant in the ceremony.
“We are hoping to raise more funds, to give more vests to police departments," said Westrbook, who added that he’ll go just about anywhere to donate a vest to a police department. On Facebook, the association posted, "We are hoping that with more donations we can be able to make more days like today happen with more police departments through out the Central Valley and Central Coast."
Hollister Police Chief David Westrick said during the ceremony: "Early last year we got to see Dallas get sworn in and now we're watching him get his vest on."
For more information about the Los Banos K9 Association, visit www.losbanosk9.com or visit its Facebook page.