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Apr 2, 2012 8:31 AM by AP

Nonprofit gives bulletproof vests to Tangi K-9s

HAMMOND, La. (AP) - Animal hospital workers bought a bulletproof vest for a wounded police dog, then created a nonprofit organization to buy more.

The dog Titan was back at work with Tangipahoa Parish Sheriff's Deputy Albert Sharp two weeks after surgery to get bullet fragments out of his face, The Daily Star reported (http://bit.ly/Hi5gE2).

"We learned these guys don't have bulletproof vests," said Robert Porter, a canine rehabilitator at the Louisiana Veterinary Referral Center, a 24-hour multispecialty and emergency animal hospital in Mandeville. "So we bought Titan one and decided to go ahead and start a nonprofit organization."

Each vest costs nearly $1,000.

LaCOP - for Louisiana Canine Occupational Protection - has outfitted all five police dogs in the Tangipahoa Parish sheriff's office. He plans to next outfit the K-9s in St. Tammany Parish, and eventually to do so for every police dog in Louisiana.

"They're in the line of fire every day," he said. "We send the dogs in before we send in the people, and their jobs are more dangerous than just about anybody's. I think Titan showed us that first hand when he came into the hospital. I think they should be just as protected as the people if not more so. The deputies care for them just like a member of the family."

There's more to Titan's story. He won the U.S. Police Canine Association's National Case of the fourth quarter for 2011, making him one of four dogs eligible for case of the year.

"It's between us and the three other winners from the other quarters," Sharp said.

The man who allegedly shot Titan was arrested in October, after a 14-day manhunt.

Sharp said worrying about danger to Titan would be like worrying about danger to himself: "You always know it's a possibility, but you still do what you got to do."

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