WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — When Gorky, a Davie County police dog, died after being shot in a standoff last January, local dog lovers began wondering about the safety of Forsyth’s canine officers.
Gorky wasn’t wearing a vest when he was shot.
Winston-Salem business owners Geralyn Kelly of Elite Canine Dog Training Center and Steve Kline of wholePET Dog Boutique learned that the Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office needed a few canine vests, so they got to work. Kelly and Kline set up a website to gather donations through the month of February.
Thanks to their “Kevlar for K9s” campaign, the Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office is receiving more than $3,600 worth of equipment, including three Kevlar canine vests, water bowls, stretchers, leashes, flashlights and other equipment.
Sheriff Bill Schatzman recognized Kelly and Kline for their efforts on Wednesday.
“This equipment will go a long way to ensuring that the animals we have are protected,” Schatzman said at a press conference at the sheriff’s office.
Kelly and Kline received a lot of help from the community. The Deibler brothers – Gavin, 9, and Gabe, 5 – did their part by selling 216 cupcakes. They raised $466 by selling them to friends, family members and neighbors.
Schatzman presented the boys with special citizenship awards on Wednesday.
“I hear you’re going to the culinary institute of cupcake making,” Schatzman joked with the boys before the ceremony.
The boys’ mom, Lindsay Deibler, said they take their dog, Boden, to Elite Canine for training, and that is how they heard about the fundraising effort. They talked about how they could pitch in and came up with an idea to sell cupcakes.
The family made cupcakes over three days. Gavin iced them all, and Gabe put on the sprinkles. They printed out photos of Gorky and wrote thank you notes to include with each cupcake.
“It was really fun to sell all the cupcakes to people and collect all the money to use for the vests,” Gavin said.
Kelly and Kline said the community really stepped up.
“It’s awesome,” Kelly said after seeing the equipment spread out on a table at the sheriff’s office.
“It’s huge,” Kline said. “The kids are what’s really amazing.”
With enough money to buy the three needed vests and more, they asked the sheriff’s office for a shopping list of other items to purchase for the unit.
“The dogs need to be protected,” Kline said.
“They protect us and they deserve the same,” Kelly added.
Cpl. Mark Holt, K-9 coordinator for the sheriff’s office, said the office had one dog that needed a vest and two old vests that needed to be replaced.
Holt said the sheriff’s office has eight police dogs. One is assigned to the school resource officer division, six are on patrol and one is in transition to retirement. The department hopes to get one or two more dogs in the future.
Holt described the donation as “tremendous.”
“It means that the community is involved with us,” he said. “They’re wanting to help us, and that means a lot to us.”