Thousands of police dogs across the country will soon be wearing bullet- and stab-protective vests embroidered with these words: "In Memory of K-9 Rocco, Pittsburgh Police Department."
A New England nonprofit raised more than $120,000 in the first three days of a national campaign to get protective body armor — and Rocco's name — on dogs that serve as police officers.
The Jan. 30 death of the 8-year-old German shepherd inspired the campaign that runs through Wednesday. The dog was stabbed Jan. 28 while helping Pittsburgh police officers make an arrest. "The grief was felt nationwide," said Sandy Marcal, president and founder of Vested Interest in K-9s. Social media spread the word about Rocco.
Since 2009, the organization based in East Taunton, Mass., has bought vests for 585 law-enforcement dogs in 39 states. Vests generally cost $2,500, but Marcal said her nonprofit can get them for $950 each.
Vested Interest has teamed with Groupon, the deal-of-the-day website, for the Rocco donation tribute. The K-9 officer's death "is a terrible tragedy, but his name will live forever," Marcal said. "It has raised awareness" of the need for K-9 protective vests, which many police departments can't afford, Marcal said.
Go to groupon.com/k9s by Wednesday to purchase a Groupon tax-deductible donation. The suggested donation is $10.
K-9 vests purchased with money donated Feb. 15-March 5 will be embroidered with the Rocco tribute.