Community Donates Funds for K-9 Ballistic Vests

SAN JOAQUIN COUNTY -- San Joaquin County K-9s have some much-needed protection, thanks to tens of thousands of dollars raised by the community.

It's been more than three years but San Joaquin Sheriff`s Deputy Joshua Stillman clearly remembers the night Haakon almost gave his life for the job.

"Pretty traumatizing to see all the blood. I didn't think he was going to make it," Stillman said.

Stillman's partner, Haakon, was stabbed in the neck while trying to get a suspect. He nearly bled to death. Haakon's story shined a light on the dangers police dogs face, and a lack of resources many agencies have to protect them.

That was the first time the public stepped up, donating $1,800 ballistic vests for Hakoon and three of his K-9 co-workers. Tuesday marks the second time.

"I bought two vests for them and I said, 'When you need more just call,'" donor Jackie Podesta said.

Some of the community members who heard about the San Joaquin Sheriff's Office needs opened their hearts and wallets, buying not just vests for the other eight K-9s but donating enough extra money to pay for replacements.

"It's security for all of us," donor Liz Blanchard said. "They serve all of us."

Sandy and Dave Harmon raised money through their neighborhood watch group over the summer. Tuesday, they got to watch K-9 Charlie train in the vest they bought.

"It's peace of mind when we're sending him into places where we're not sure," Deputy Mark Jones said.

Haakon has had that support for a while now, but now his whole K-9 squad can feel the same.