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October 31, 2008

CONTACT: Peter Van Delft
(617) 961-6682


K-9 Calendar PhotoSuffolk County Sheriff’s Department Corporal Robert Connelly and his K–9 partner, a yellow Labrador retriever, named Simba have been featured in the 2009 Massachusetts Vest–a–Dog fundraising calendar. Corporal Connelly and Simba are highlighted in the upcoming calendar during the month of October in support of the non–profit organization that is providing Simba with a fitted protective vest.

Corporal Connelly said, “For me it is a great honor to have represented the Suffolk County Sheriff’s Department’s K–9 unit in the Massachusetts Vest–a–Dog calendar. It was K–9 Supervisor Lieutenant John Murphy’s insight that Simba and I start cross training with the Barnstable County Sheriff’s K–9 unit passive alert drug dogs. This training introduced us to the Vest–a–Dog organization.”

The mission of Massachusetts Vest–a–Dog, Inc. (MAVAD) is to provide vests to police dogs throughout the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. By holding fundraisers and utilizing their tax–deductible status to attract sponsors, MAVAD has been able to provide vests for more than 203 police dogs throughout various agencies within the law enforcement community with an additional five vests on order. Simba’s new vest was sponsored by the Angel View Pet Cemetery in Middleboro, MA.

Each vest offers the dog bullet and stab protection at a cost of over $700. Suffolk County Sheriff’s Department K–9 Simba has already been fitted for his vest and is scheduled to receive it during a demonstration with other Suffolk County Sheriff’s Department dogs on December 13th at the MAVAD “Helping Paws for the Holidays” fundraiser at the Pet Food Shoppe on Rte. 44 in Lakeville, MA.

The MAVAD organization was originally founded in May 2000, in East Walpole, by then 11–year–old Lisa Hinds with a group of middle school students and several adults. Inspiration for the program came from heart–breaking events in the state of Ohio that took place just two months prior. In Jefferson, Ashtabula County Sheriff’s Deputy William R. Niemi’s partner, K–9 Cero was killed in the line of duty. Cero, a German shepherd, was shot to death while trying to subdue a man who had killed a local resident. Cero attacked the perpetrator alerting officers that a handgun was present. The assailant shot and killed Cero before the officers were able to respond. In Cero’s honor the vesting program for Massachusetts was established. You can read additional information about these events and Cero at:

“My K–9 is my partner and a member of the Suffolk County Sheriff’s Department,” commented Cpl. Connelly. “You never know what type of a situation you may run into and having a fitted ballistic vest for Simba is a great way to help protect his life.” He continued, “I’m pleased to say that sheriff’s department dogs Kilo and Luka are on the list awaiting their very own vests.”

The twelve–month calendar features thirteen Massachusetts police dogs and can be purchased at various local businesses South of Boston or online through their website. This is the third year the organization has published a calendar and proceeds from the sale will help provide additional protective vests for police dogs.

“We’re really excited to offer this calendar, as it shows a great variety: different law enforcement departments, police dog breeds, and general activities of K–9 teams. For example, we have German Shepherd Dogs, Labrador Retrievers, Belgian Malinois and a Golden Retriever in the calendar. In some photos the dogs are in a ‘sit’ or ‘down’ position, but there are also action shots, as the K–9’s do a track and an apprehension. There’s even a K–9 and handler doing a water apprehension,” explained Sandy Marcal, MAVAD Fundraising Coordinator.

Marcal continued, “Over the past eight years, with generous donations from individuals, organizations and businesses and lots of volunteer hours, we’ve helped vest over 200 Massachusetts police dogs, in local police departments, sheriff departments, Mass State Police, Mass Department of Corrections, MBTA, Mass Environmental Police, Mass Department of Mental Retardation, US Air Force–Hanscom AFB, and US Coast Guard–Gloucester.”

You can contribute to this organization by purchasing your very own 2009 calendar online from their secure website at: or make a tax–deductible donation. Donations may also be made through the website or can be sent directly to: Massachusetts Vest–a–Dog, Inc., P.O. BOX 512, Centerville, MA 02632.

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