By Emily M. Hobbs Staff Writer
April 17, 2014
Third-grade students at Hobbton Elementary School presented the Sampson County Sheriff’s Office’s K9 Division with body armor for one of their dogs earlier this week, a gift that delighted both students and the law enforcement agency
Sheriff Jimmy Thornton accepted the vest on behalf of the Sheriff’s Office, and expressed his sincere thanks for the efforts of the students and staff in working on raising the funds for the vest.
Jennifer King’s third grade class started the drive, and King said that the entire school and community rallied around the idea of getting the K9s protective body armor. Without the armor, officer said, the K9s have no protection from someone who wants to stab or shoot the animals.
During the ceremony on Tuesday, one of the two dogs from the SCSO demonstrated some of his skills.
“I have been working with the K9 team for three years,” said Cpl. Timmy Bass during a telephone interview on Thursday. The K9 team is part of CID, or Criminal Investigations Division within the Sampson County Sheriff’s Office.
“The K9s are highly trained,” said Bass. The dogs perform searches for illegal substances, track and trail suspects, search articles and also do aggression work.
“The K9s help in variety of ways,” asserted Bass. “The K9s are assigned to the division. It has been a goal of mine to be a K9 handler. I enjoy working with K9s.”
Bass explained that both he and his dog, Bink, must work together and train together as a team regularly. He has to do monthly in-service training which he completes in Cumberland County with other K9 handlers. The handlers also have to do an eight week training course with the dogs when they first start as well.
“With K9s you have to do daily training,” Bass added. The pair works on different objectives every day, from searching for drugs to obedience training. Bink is also Bass’ first K9.
Currently there are two dogs in the Sheriff’s Office, Bink and Bene. The school also presented them with a check for extra funds that will go towards a vest for Bene.
“If we have any extra money left over from getting the second vest we hope to get first aid kits for the K9s as well,” Bass noted.
“These dogs were purchased with seized asset funds,” the corporal explained, adding that they have more than paid for themselves many times over already.
In the last week of October last year, during Red Ribbon Week, one of the K9s came to the school. In a question and answer session, one of the teacher’s assistants asked if the dogs’ had protective vests, and the students found out that the dogs did not have them
“King said her class had just been talking about the importance of community service, and the students decided they wanted to make this a project.
“We have had a lot of community involvement,” said King. Jars were placed by registers at local businesses so donations could be collected. Businesses also made some big donations as well, said King.
“They wanted to raise the money to protect these dogs,” King added. She said that the students were really excited about getting these vests.
“This really impacted my students,” King said. “We had a big discussion about it. The students also put out fliers and made daily announcements about the collections.”
The students started collecting the funds around the second week in November last year, and the effort took off quickly, with the first vest being ordered right before Christmas break.
Hobbton Elementary School Assistant Principal Dawn Wilkes was also instrumental in communicating with the SCSO and working on coordination efforts, said King.
“They raised over $850 in about seven to eight weeks,” said King. “It was wow! There was a lot fo change to count.” The theme for the donation drive was called “Collecting spare change to spare the life of K9” said King.
There will be a second vest ordered soon with the money presented by the school so the other K9 will have one too.
Emily M. Hobbs can be reached at 910-592-8137 ext. 122 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.