Everyone wanted to pet Rocky – the Napa Police K-9 that was outside of Pet Food Express on Saturday helping to raise money for the Bay Area non-profit that has helped him stay protected in the line of duty. The people-friendly police dog with clean, soft fur was relaxed as children poked his nose and had their pictures taken beside him, but Rocky, just like his handler, Officer Brett Muratori, has a dangerous job.
That’s why Cover Your K-9, a project of the Police & Working K-9 Foundation, recently provided Rocky with a new Kevlar vest, which can cost between $800 and $1,200. The fund, which provides safety equipment and emergency medical care to California law enforcement K-9 teams, has done a lot for Rocky and the Napa Police Department, Muratori said.
“We do see a lot of dogs across American that do get killed either by gunfire or in stabbing situations, so this is an extra layer of protection that they have when they go into those dangerous situations,” Muratori said. Police dogs like Rocky, a Belgian Malinois, are often sent into danger first without their handlers, he said, making them more vulnerable.
Rocky needs to get used to the vest, but Muratori said that his training is going well.
“It’s pretty cool, it has the markings of ‘police’ on it,” Muratori said of the vest. “It also has a couple clips that we can hook leashes and stuff to. They’re super durable.”
But the vest isn’t the only thing Cover Your K-9 has provided Rocky with. Muratori and Rocky have participated in a canine medical course offered by the organization, which also provided the duo with a backpack full of medical supplies.
Veterinarians taught handlers how to provide emergency medical attention to their canine partners, Muratori said.
Cover Your K-9 also provided the department with a GPS collar, so that if handlers lose track of their dog, they can find them. It’s something that may be helpful in a situation where there’s a lot of land and their dogs go off on their own, like when the dogs are on a marijuana grow Upvalley, Muratori said.
Rocky is certified in both patrol and narcotics, so he is trained to sniff out drugs including marijuana, cocaine, methamphetamine and heroin. He can also do article searches and is good at finding missing people and suspects, Muratori said.
Rocky is also a family dog. He lives with Muratori, his wife, and their 14-month-old son.
“He’s really good with him,” Muratori said. “As you can tell, he’s awesome with kids.” Rocky gets a lot of exposure to people by coming out to events like this one at Pet Food Express and other events around the city, he said. “He has the ability to do his job and do it well, but at the same time be really friendly around people.”
When it’s time to work, though, Rocky can turn it on in an instant.
“The second I put him back in that car he’s gonna start spinning circles, especially if I turn the lights, he knows it’s go time,” Muratori said. “Pretty much whenever he gets into that car he kind of knows what his job’s about to be.”
Muratori and Rocky were out at the store until about 3:30 p.m. raising money for Cover Your K-9.
“We came here specifically to donate today,” said Lonnie Robinson.
“And, of course, to pet the dog,” added Anya Robinson, his wife.
Lonnie Robinson said that he was surprised to hear that not all law enforcement agencies have vests for their dogs, but that he was more than happy to contribute to the cause.
Renae Lamb and her 11-year-old son, A.J. Lindberg, also came out to donate to Cover Your K-9.
“His father was a K-9 officer so we wanted to come down and donate,” Lamb said. “We know how important it is for them to have the vests and stuff.”
Pet Food Express stores have been holding the fundraiser for Cover Your K-9 for the last seven years and has raised about a half-million dollars for the cause, said Emily Mourraille, assistant manager of the Napa location. The money, she said, goes right to the dogs in the form of bullet-proof vests, heat alarms for patrol cars, trauma kits and medical costs.
All of the Saturday and Sunday proceeds from the store’s self-serve pet wash will benefit the police dogs, Mourraille said. Customers can also donate their change or a dollar amount to the cause. Those who donate $20 or more can get a limited edition German Shepherd “plushie” modeled off a Bay Area K-9.
“These dogs really go above and beyond in the line of duty and put their lives on the line just like humans do,” Mourraille said, “so they deserve just as much recognition and safety as anybody else.”
For more information or to donate to the Cover Your K-9 Fund, head to any Pet Food Express on Sunday or visit coveryourk9.com. K-9 handler Officer Mike Moore will be out at the Napa location at 3916 Bel Aire Plaza with his partner, Bes, from 11 a.m. – 2 p.m. Sunday.