SAN MARCOS — Armor, a 4-year-old German Shepard, is a critical piece of Cal State San Marcos’ anti-terrorism defense, but up until recently was vulnerable to the very attacks he was trained to stop.
That changed to a lesser extent late last month as Armor received some, well, armor — a ballistic protection vest, courtesy of the Massachusetts-based nonprofit Vested Interest in K9s, Inc.
The vest protects the dog from bullet and stab wounds.
“Armor’s vulnerability is my biggest concern during critical incidents such as an active shooter and/or during explosive detection sweeps,” said Cal State San Marcos police officer David Angulo, who is Armor’s human partner. “Although Armor’s vest won’t prevent those incidents from occurring, it definitely gives me a peace of mind knowing he has some preventative measures that will give him a fighting chance in the unlikely event that we are exposed to an attack.”
Armor is one of three explosives detection canines in the California State University system and the only one in North San Diego County.
He and Angulo search buildings, structures, open areas and buildings where a suspected explosive device has been reported or located.
Their first assignment on campus was in 2015 at the school’s commencement ceremonies in May.
That was after they underwent a batter of training at the Inglis Police Dog Academy in Santa Paula shortly after Armor arrived in the U.S.
He is proficient in detecting 20 odors, which is more than what is required by the federal certification process.
The duo is frequently on call for requests outside of the university, such as from the city of San Marcos and other surrounding communities that may need their support.
Officials with the nonprofit said they were happy to donate the vest, which covers most of Armor’s back and torso.
The vest typically costs $1,700, but nonprofit officials said a donation was in order due to Armor’s extensive community involvement.
“We were pleased to work with the California State University San Marcos to make this gift of protection possible for Armor through our K-9 vest grant program,” said Sandy Marcel, the president for Vested Interest in K9s, Inc. “Ballistic vests are vital to both human and K-9 partners.”
The program is open to dogs actively employed in the U.S. with law enforcement or related agencies who are certified and at least 20 months of age. New K-9 graduates, as well as K-9s with expired vests, are eligible to participate.