A nonprofit organization that works to get equipment, training, and dogs for law enforcement K-9 units in Massachusetts said yesterday that it is awarding $17,000 in grants to several police departments.
The grants, provided by Massachusetts Vest-A-Dog, will be used to fund items such as bite suits and a cruiser kennel, said Kathy Hinds, president of the organization.
The State Police, Massachusetts Environmental Police, and departments in Holliston, Wareham, and Westford will receive the grants, the Walpole-based group said.
Holliston, which is implementing a new K-9 program, will receive the largest grant, worth $5,000.
In a statement yesterday, Holliston Police Chief John J. Moore said the funding will help the department obtain the equipment and training it needs for its new K-9 operation. He said it will also allow the town “to add a valuable tool to its public safety component that will deter crime, aid those in need, and act as a protector of the community and those that serve it.’’
State Police spokesman David Procopio said: “Police dogs are brave, smart, and tenacious. We ask them to subdue dangerous criminals, sniff out explosives, and find missing children. They are four-legged heroes, and the very least we can do is provide gear to protect them.’’
With the help of donors, Vest-A-Dog has already distributed about 300 bulletproof vests to K-9 units in the state since it started in 2000.
There are currently 275 police dogs in the state, said Hinds, who estimates that about half the state’s police departments don’t have K-9 programs.