Saturday kicked off the beginning of a raffle at a valley Fry's grocery store to help raise money to protect Phoenix Police K-9s.
For some time, a local Fry's grocery store employee Bill Vasquez felt called to do something to help protect police K-9s. Through his partnership with Fry's and with Dave Van-T of Play Wirx, he is able to do just that.
"I have always wanted to do this particular fundraiser" Vasquez said.
He was touched a few weeks back after seeing a story about a police K-9. With the help of Fry's, Vasquez contacted Dave Van-T who owns the local business Play Wirx to see if he could help. Saturday morning he presented Phoenix Police Department with a $650 check on behalf of Fry's to kick of the raffle.
Sgt. Rich Maiocco with the Phoenix Police Department was there to explain the importance of police K-9s.
"We will probably never know how many lives they have saved or injuries they've prevented by giving us an early detection sign," he says.
Van-T, who builds various sculptures and play-houses created a stunning Phoenix Police inspired dog house. The dog house among several gift cards for local restaurants and a Fry's card worth $100 will be raffled off.
Vasquez is hoping that the raffle allows them raise enough funds to purchase two more vests. Currently, Phoenix has 17 patrol dogs, but only 14 vests. To him, the vests are important in protecting the "four-legged" first responders. Maiocco explains that sometimes the vests can give the dogs a fighting chance. Last June, Ronin, a Glendale Police K-9, died as a result of his injuries in the line of duty.
Officer Andrew Carlsson brought his K-9 partner Wodan who was wearing his K-9 vest. Maiocco, who helps train K-9s and their handlers, explained that the vests offer protection for the dogs against bullets and knives, but come at a hefty price of nearly $700.
"People need to realize that the vests are like the ones we wear, they have a shelf life," Maiocco said.
"They are first responders as well, so we want to protect them" Vasquez said.
The raffle goes on throughout July, ending on Aug. 3. Those interested can visit the Fry's store at 3616 E. Ray Rd. in Ahwatukee.
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