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They're Vested for Public Service

By Carole LaMond
Staff Writer

In a matter of seconds Corbo immobilized a suspect who was attempting to flea from a policeofficer. A few minutes later he searched the area and, again within seconds, he discovered a packet of heroin hidden in a box.

Corbo’s satisfaction was obvious to everyone who observed his law-enforcement duties at Especially for Pets in Sudbury this past Saturday. His tail was wagging.

Corbo is a police dog in the Middlesex County Sheriff’s Department. A Belgian Malinois, the up-and-coming breed for use in customs and border patrol, Corbo is dual certified in suspect apprehension and narcotics detection.

Last week’s apprehension and drug bust were only a demonstration, but K-9 Corbo and Deputy
William Goudey have a long list of real-life suspect apprehension and drug arrests in their nearly
four years as partners.

The demonstration was a first for Corbo in that he wore a protective vest donated by the Sudbury
pet store as part of a corporate fundraising effort for Massachusetts Vest-a-Dog.

The organization’s goal is to provide a protective vest for each of the 235 police dogs in
Massachusetts. Law enforcement branches with K-9s waiting for vests include municipal police and
sheriffs departments, Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority, Massachusetts State Police and
Massachusetts Department of Corrections.

Corbo is the 107th police dog in Massachusetts to receive the 4-pound bullet-and-stab-proof vest
made of materials identical to those in vests used by law enforcement officers. It is the 55th vest
donated through the state volunteer group.

Erny Isabelle, a manager at Especially for Pets, presented Middlesex County Sheriff Jim DiPaola
with the $650 vest as well as a check for $2,116 contributed from the four stores in Sudbury,
Wayland, Acton and Newton. Each store accepts a donation in lieu of charging for pet nail clipping
and also provides a can for donations. The stores contribute the money to a pet-related cause each
fiscal quarter.

“A lot of people don’t really know all that police dogs do and that they need protection,” said
Isabelle. “Because we’re pet lovers, and we service pet lovers, we decided why not help the
community and the surrounding communities by helping those dogs who put their lives on the line
for us.”

Police dogs are a valuable resource in searching for suspects and missing persons, prison patrol and
narcotics detection. German Shepherds are the most-used breed in police work, but the smaller
Belgian Malinois can easily search under car seats or in other confined areas.

A trained K-9 can search an area in minutes that would take a police team hours to check. “This will
be enough to provide a vest for all four of our dogs. I’m deeply touched by this,” said DiPaola of the
K-9 units that service 54 cities and towns in the county and two jails. “The dogs really are amazing,
the amount of work they do. It’s a very useful tool and a resource we can make available to the
communities. There is always one dog on duty and we will respond 24/7.”

The team goes through a 16-week training program for patrol work and an additional 10-week
program for drug certification. Goudey puts a special collar of Corbo when he is looking for drugs “to
clear his head and show him he’s doing narcotics work instead of bite work.”

Each dog lives with his partner as a household pet until it is time to go to work. “You wouldn’t even
know he’s a police dog at my house,” said Goudey who is the father of two young children. “When
he sees me getting dressed he turns into Corbo, police dog. You’re a team. I watch out for him, he
watches out for me.”

Goudey and Corbo often get results within minutes of their arrival at a scene. Last week police
officers knew a suspect was in possession of drugs, but the officers couldn’t find them. Corbo
immediately located the hiding place – cocaine and heroin were in the handle of a buck knife in
the suspect’s car.

Earlier this month they were called to a thickly wooded area in Billerica where officers had searched
for two breaking-and-entry suspects for more than an hour. Goudey arrived and made the official
announcement that he was bringing in his dog.

Within minutes Corbo was within 30 feet of a suspect and barking loudly. The suspect was so scared
he not only gave himself up, but pointed to where his buddy was hiding as well.

Sometimes law enforcement officers and their police dogs are not so lucky.

On June 5, 1998, Solo, a K-9 working for a New Jersey county sheriff’s department was killed in the
line of duty when he took a bullet meant for a police officer. Solo was given a hero’s funeral.

The dog’s death inspired The Associated Humane Societies in New Jersey to raise funds to buy a
bullet-proof vest for every dog in the state. In May 1999, Stephanie Taylor, a 10-year-old California
girl read about Solo and began collecting donations to “vest a dog” across the nation.

A year later, a Walpole middle-school student, Lisa Hinds, now 12, read about Taylor in a national
girls’ magazine and told her mother, Kathy about the effort.

“Lisa said, ’It’s going to take too long for her to do all the dogs in the nation. We have to do
something for the dogs in Massachusetts,’ “ said Kathy Hinds who investigated and found that police
budgets didn’t go far enough to buy vests for dogs.

The Hinds joined forces with Cape Cod Vest-a-Dog to launch the state organization with the motto
“Help protect the dogs who help protect you” and the mission to provide a protective vest for every
police dog in Massachusetts.

“The program has been successful through the generosity of many people,” said Hinds of both
individual and corporate donations. “Especially for Pets has performed a community service by
telling people about the program as the need, as well as giving their customers the opportunity to
assist and get involved.”

For information on Massachusetts Vest-a-Dog, contact Kathy Hinds at 262 Moose Hill Road, E.
Walpole, MA 02032; phone 508-668-7149; World Wide Web site www.mavestadog.org

THE SUDBURY TOWN CRIER
THURSDAY, JULY 5, 2001



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