Teen’s nonprofit provides lifesaving vest for Bloomfield Township K-9

By: Mary Beth Almond | Birmingham - Bloomfield Eagle | Published January 11, 2022

 K9 Strong Foundation founder Samantha Bloch recently provided a protective vest for Bloomfield Township Police  K-9 officer Vince.

K9 Strong Foundation founder Samantha Bloch recently provided a protective vest for Bloomfield Township Police K-9 officer Vince.

Photo provided by the Bloomfield Township Police Department

 Bloomfield Township Police K-9 officer Vince shows off his new ballistic vest, donated by the K9 Strong Foundation.

Bloomfield Township Police K-9 officer Vince shows off his new ballistic vest, donated by the K9 Strong Foundation.

Photo provided by the Bloomfield Township Police Department

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BLOOMFIELD TOWNSHIP — Keeping the residents of Bloomfield Township safe is a job that often puts officers, including the four-legged kind, in danger.

To help the Bloomfield Township Police Department’s K-9 Vince on the job, the K9 Strong Foundation recently provided the purebred German shepherd with a protective vest.

K9 Strong Foundation founder Samantha Bloch, 15, started the nonprofit a few years ago after learning St. Clair Shores K-9 Officer Axe was killed in the line of duty in late 2018.

“It motivated me to want to help out the other K-9 officers in my community and make sure they have the protective gear they need,” said Bloch, of West Bloomfield.

Since its inception, the K9 Strong Foundation has provided protective gear for two K-9s in West Bloomfield and another from the Oakland County Sheriff’s Office.

Most recently, the nonprofit raised nearly $3,000 for a ballistic vest for K-9 Vince — who joined the Bloomfield Township Police Department last spring.

Bloch raised the money by selling silicone “K-9 Strong” bracelets at local businesses amid the COVID-19 pandemic and from online donations at the foundation’s new website, https://k9strongfoundation.org.

The ballistic vest — which Vince received Dec. 11 — helps stop bullets and knives intended for the K-9, who is often the first to encounter violent lawbreakers and fleeing suspects.

“The things that we get called to for K-9 related work are usually the worst of the worst … and the K-9s are the ones that are going to be in front of that track,” said Officer Angela Carlson, Vince’s handler. “That dog is going to be the first one that comes in contact with that dangerous person, followed by the K-9 handler. … That’s why this type of equipment is so important to protect these dogs.”

The vest, Carlson said, will go a long way to help keep the dog safe in the line of duty.

“It’s not a vest that’s worn every minute of every day that he’s at work,” she explained. “It’s a vest that he will put on if we think we might encounter someone who has a weapon and we’re tracking them, or putting him in a building search situation. It gives his vital organs that little extra protection should he come in contact with somebody who wants to harm him.”

The Bloomfield Township Police Department’s canine unit currently includes Carlson and Officer Jason Follman, with their K-9 partners Vince and Mika — who are responsible for searching buildings, tracking suspects and responding to narcotics calls as a team.

The K9 Strong Foundation is continuing to raise funds to provide protective equipment for additional local K-9 officers.

“These dogs protect us every day, and they deserve to be protected as well,” said Bloch.

To donate to the cause, or learn more about the K9 Strong Foundation, visit https://k9strongfoundation.org.

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