The American Humane Association recognized the work of 13-year-old Michael Valdez, a young man in Arizona working to improve the safety of Arizona’s police canines, by naming him one of the grand-prize winners of its Be Kind to Animals Kid Contest.

Valdez, winner in the contest’s 10-13 age category, is the founder and president of Protect Police K-9, a fully functioning, non-profit organization that raises money to purchase bullet- and stab-proof protective vests for Arizona’s police canines.

Valdez has raised more than $70,000 since he started, providing vests for nearly 100 police dogs. His organization boasts a full board of directors, and volunteers to promote the protection of police dogs. Protect Police K-9 hosts events and fundraisers and provides means for those who are interested in the cause outside of Arizona to contribute.

With two German Shepherds of his own, Valdez feels his organization is a natural outlet for his love of dogs, and believes police canines deserve the same protection as officers. “They should be part of the police force and not a piece of ‘equipment’,” he says.

The American Humane Association awarded its grand-prize winners $5,000 each for their hard work and dedication to helping protect and care for animals.

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