LOUDON (WATE) – The Loudon County Sheriff’s Department shared how they protect their K-9 officers after one in Crossville was stabbed and killed by a suspect. The Crossville Police Department said Cain was stabbed multiple times in the chest after chasing the suspect. Officers said wasn’t wearing a protective vest at the time.
Sergeant Michael Watkins with the Loudon County Sheriff’s Department showed off a bulletproof vest. It wasn’t for him but instead for his K-9 named Kane.
Related story: Crossville K-9 officer dies after being stabbed by suspect
“Say you had a SWAT dog or something of that sort that you were going in on someone that you knew was armed. That’s the only time you would use it,” said Sgt. Watkins.
He said in his 10 years on the K-9 unit, he has only used these bulletproof vests three times. He said sometimes they may be even more dangerous for the dogs.
“It restricts their breathing a lot and causes them to heat up,” he said
“They are going to hold heat just like ours and their body temperature is already 101,” said Cpl. Chris Jenkins.
Corporal Jenkins looks after a K-9 named Deja Vu. This protection is not only dangerous but also expensive. Some vests cost over $2,000. Even with it on, someone could still hurt the dogs.
“They don’t cover so much,” said Corporal Jenkins.
Most of the time, these K-9s are law enforcement’s first line of defense. Sgt. Watkins said they are the first to go out of a door and the first to go after a suspect. It was hard for him them to hear a suspect stabbed and killed a police dog in Crossville.
“It’s sad because these dogs are like family. They protect us. They allow us to go home to our family,” said Cpl. Jenkins.
So far, none of their K-9s have been seriously injured on the job. However, deputies said the danger is always there.
The Crossville Police Department said they do have vests for their dogs but they do not use them for every call. The Knoxville Police Department said they do not have any protective vests for their K-9s. They said the weight of the best makes the dogs tired and overheated. A spokesperson said they are always looking at ways to increase the safety of their K-9s, including reviewing new vests as they come on the market.