GREATER AKRON — There are at least two important things to know about Nate King, a police dispatcher from New Franklin: He loves dogs and he has always had a passion for law enforcement.
Last year, when he found out Jethro, a K-9 officer with the Canton Police Department, died after being shot by a suspect during a burglary call, he was devastated. He knew he had to do something to help keep police dogs safe, he said.
He soon learned that first aid equipment prepared specifically with dogs in mind often is not at the disposal of their human handlers. Plus, most police departments don’t have the funds to buy that type of thing, King said.
“Police departments across the nation cannot afford and do not have the budget to fully support K-9 units with the essential equipment they need and deserve,” he said.
Handlers end up paying out of pocket or seeking donations for even basic items such as leashes and rawhides, King added.
Those needs led him to start nonprofit organization K-9s of Valor, he said.
Since he began, he’s gifted first-aid kits to a number of area police dogs and their handlers — packs containing supplies such as dressings, tourniquets and other safety gear for dogs.
King learned through Facebook, which he uses to connect with K-9 handlers, that some local officers don’t have naloxone kits for their K-9 partners to assist in the event of exposure to fentanyl or other opioids.
For a dog whose job is to sniff out narcotics, having that equipment on hand just makes sense, according to King.
The kits K-9s of Valor provides contain the same medicine used as an antidote when a human overdoses on an opioid. In canines, the drug can be administered the same way, intranasally or via injection, King said. As with humans, if a dog seems to be experiencing an overdose but turns out to not be, they won’t be harmed, he said.
K-9s of Valor has been providing small cases about the size of pepper sprayers that human officers can wear on their duty belts to carry the drug, said King.
So far, no local police officers he knows of has had to administer the medicine to their K-9s.
“We do this in hopes that they don’t have to use them,” King said.
“I think it is a blessing what Nate and K-9s of Valor are doing to help us,” said Officer Pamela Helmick with The University of Akron Police Department, who received a naloxone kit for K-9 Halo Aug. 19.
“In today’s world, where is seems like dangerous drugs are everywhere, it’s nice to know we have something that can save our partners’ lives. It means so much to all of the handlers to know there are people who are thinking about our partners. We know everyone loves the dogs, but these people put their words into actions.”
King runs K-9s of Valor with the help of local volunteers Toni Worthen and Courtney Wilson, he said, and the organization also provides care packages full of treats, toys and other pet supplies to K-9 officers.
“We are here for these K-9s and their handlers,” he said.
King said the goal for 2018 is to start providing Hot-N-Pop devices to area police departments with K-9 officers who don’t already have them installed in police cruisers.
The devices, which cost around $2,000 each, prevent the inside of the car from getting too hot — if that happens, an alarm will sound, windows will automatically open and the vehicle’s fan will come on.
Also using the device, an officer can open a vehicle door using a button on their duty belt if the officer needs K-9 assistance during, for example, a scuffle with a suspect, said King.
K-9s of Valor depends on donations to provide safety equipment and care packages to local police dogs, said King. Each first aid kit is $125, and naloxone kits are $70, he said.
Monetary donations are accepted via PayPal to firstname.lastname@example.org. According to King, 100 percent of donations received go to help K-9s, and marketing and administrative costs are paid for by him or through grants.
Also, gifts to be included in K-9 care packages can be purchased through the nonprofit’s Amazon wish list, located at http://a.co/iVhlPC7.