Sometimes it's hard to know what's new in the world of K-9 gear. So to catch you up on the cool stuff that's out there, here's a look at some of the newest and most useful products available for your four-legged partner.
Keeping your K-9 protected is extremely important. Although wearing armor or other protective gear is not appropriate in every situation, it's necessary to have it on hand for those times when you need it. There's a lot to choose from, but here's a sampling.
The name "Doggles" may sound funny, but these serious goggles keep K-9s' eyes protected. You can think of them as armor for your dogs' eyes. Police dogs in Search and Rescue, Border Patrol, and department K-9 units wear the ILS model Doggles in size large. These goggles have flexible frames and deep lens cups that provide a secure fit. Although tinted lenses are available, clear lenses provide the clearest view for working dogs, especially when searching in dark areas such as warehouses and attics. As a bonus, the goggles provide UV protection and have an anti-fog coating to make sure your K-9's vision won't be obscured in any situation.
K-9 armor from Pinnacle Armor is made with the same materials used on human cops, but is designed to properly fit a dog-in every season. A multi-zip function allows one K-9 vest to fit dogs with full coats in the winter and adjust to fit more snugly when K-9s have slimmer coats in the summer months. An attached harness criss-crosses underneath the dog so he won't tip when rappelling. This armor, which offers full-frontal chest protection, is available in NIJ levels IIA, II, and IIIA, as well as in an armor-piercing variant.
The K-9 Operations Vest from Point Blank Body Armor provides full-coverage ballistic protection for chest, back, sides, and abdomen and is available in NIJ Levels IIA, II, and IIIA. This custom-sized vest accommodates a K-9 harness and its sewn-in heavy-duty metal rappel loop accommodates an ordinary leash. To provide handlers with several options, the vest's 500-denier Cordura outershell can be used alone as K-9 identification or identification can be easily removed from the vest. To keep your K-9 comfortable, a cooling system is available for this vest.
Second Chance Body Armor's K-9 Partner Armor is a two-piece unit made of PolyDuc designed to protect police dogs' most vulnerable areas. The ballistic panel is worn with a series of nylon buckled straps and elastic attachments for easy adjustment. This system also provides give so that the dog can move freely while the ballistic protection stays in place. The armor protects the animal's chest with double panel protection over the heart area on either side and provides over-the-back protection. Ballistic protection is available in NIJ Levels IIA, II, or IIIA. The carrier is made of pack cloth nylon that can be wiped clean after each wearing.
Keeping track of everything your K-9 does while on the job and during training can be a hassle. It's a must, not just for the bean counters' records, but for liability reasons. Although it's a chore that will never be completely painless, software designed to document and organize your K-9's activities can ease the pain a bit.
Most companies that offer K-9 management software also supply prospective customers with demo CDs so you can decide which product works best for you and your department before you commit.
Code Blue Designs' Kanine II was created to document not just training, but all those other things you and your K-9 do on the job. It even allows for the entry of multiple training activities for each training record as well as single handler or multiple handler registration. It also keeps track of K-9 unit expense records and reports, K-9 medical records and reports, and use-of-force reports.
CyberCop's K9 Manager was made to take with you wherever you go. Available for both WindowsCE and Palm handheld computers, it's designed to capture your daily events, including deployments, compliance issues, vehicle data, activities, incidentals, targets, and images.
CACTUS (Computer Aided Canine Tracking Utility System) software from KF Software was created by K-9 handlers to allow you to record everything you need, including wind, weather, surface, and distraction information. It supports multiple K-9 logs and allows you to create maps and diagrams. The secure database allows you to print the full log or just the important statistics that you need. The software runs on Windows 95 and newer computers; customizations are available to suit your specific needs.
Keeping Your Cool
K-9s work hard to serve and protect, just like other cops. But they can't change their coats with the weather. Innovative products help keep K-9s' body temperatures in a safe range.
CoolCop, a company known for the device that directs air conditioned or heated air from a patrol car vent under a ballistic vest now offers a similar product to keep K-9 cops comfortable.
CoolK9 was created to keep police K-9 partners cool (or warm) and safe by directing the vehicle's air conditioning to a dog kennel, pet carrier, or police K9 enclosure. It comes with six feet of hose that attaches to the dashboard of a Ford or Chevy with Velcro on one end and to the K-9's enclosure with snap ties. CoolK9 can also be attached to other vehicles' dashboards or rear air conditioning outlets with weather stripping modification. Longer hoses are also available.