Classic Graphics of Charlotte recently donated $1,585 to The Special Operations K-9 Unit of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police department to buy three dog harnesses.
The harnesses, designed and manufactured by Remington Arms K-9’s, are Army green and fitted with multiple straps. Remington Arms representative Jason Watson collaborated with CMPD Officer Matt Yoder to ensure the harnesses, typically for military use, would be police-friendly.
Yoder said the harnesses’ biggest benefit are straps that allow dogs to be equipped with special lights and cameras. Yoder said more cameras and lights help officers see what they’re walking into.
The straps also allow officers to carry their dogs, so they can be moved if injured or carried up a ladder, Yoder said.
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The donation project came together after Leanne Kinsella, director of market development for Classic Graphics, contacted several local departments hoping to raise funds for the bulletproof vests. Yoder told Kinsella his department needs harnesses instead of vests.
Kinsella got help from her pet sitter, Paulette DeRonda, owner of Lake Norman Pet Sitters. Kinsella also had the support of Classic Graphics founder and President David Pitts, a fellow dog lover.
Kinsella and DeRonda began raising money in March, with a goal of $1,400. More than half of the money was raised by mid-April and they surpassed the goal by $185 by the end of that month.
The majority of donors reside in Charlotte and Lake Norman, but contributions also came from Classic Graphics employees in Raleigh.
With the fundraising goal surpassed, Yoder put Kinsella in contact with Watson. The Remington representative told Yoder and Kinsella about the newest equipment.
Yoder also said Remington picked up the $215 difference to help them get three vests, which cost $600 each.
Kinsella said her love of her German Shepherd, Gigi, inspired her efforts. DeRonda said her past involvement made getting involved a no-brainer. Her past projects include collecting her clients’ old towels and giving them to the Cornelius animal shelter, as well as raising $310 for Friends of the Animals, a nonprofit in Mooresville committed to saving neglected dogs and cats. Friend of the Animals also provides low-cost spay/neutering and promotes adoption of homeless animals.
Kinsella, DeRonda and Classic Graphics employees had a chance to see the harnesses modeled by Special Operations K-9 unit dogs on May 28 during a meet-and-greet.