CLAYTON — The police department’s canine will soon have a layer of protection now that Wal-Mart has given money to buy Major a bulletproof vest.
When store manager Toby Williamson learned from Officer Justin Vause that Major didn’t have a bulletproof vest, Williamson got inspired.
He called other Wal-Mart stores across the state, from Rocky Mount to Raleigh, and they all pitched in to help. Together, they gave $1,200 to buy a vest.
“Their life is put in harm’s way every day, and they need the same protection every officer deserves,” Williamson said.
Vause and Major have been partners since May. Several times, Vause said, people have asked him why the dog doesn’t have a bulletproof vest.
Now, Major will have protection in the most serious situations. Unlike police officers, he won’t be wearing the vest all of the time.
“If we’re going to a known risk area where there are weapons, I’ll pull over and throw his vest on,” Vause said.
Now that the department has the check from Wal-Mart, it can purchase the vest. When it arrives in the next couple weeks, Vause and Major will start training with it.
The vest weighs about 7 pounds, so it will be an adjustment for the dog. The German Shepherd weighs 86 pounds.
Vause and Major began training together in January. They hit the streets in May.
Since then, the canine has helped in several major drug busts.
In July, Major helped locate more than 350 grams of crystal meth and 32 grams of cocaine at a house on South Smith Street. Two people were arrested.
Last week, Major assisted in a drug bust on Herndon Court. Police seized 60 marijuana plants that were part of a growing operation. Two people were arrested.
Another Clayton officer, Jamie Brantley, will be getting a dog soon. Brantley found out recently that he’s going to be paired with a canine. His 4-year old son Greyson couldn’t be more excited.
The officer and dog will start training together in January.
“Eventually I’d like to have four dogs on our police force,” Vause said.
Each dog costs $6,000 to $7,000, but the officers agreed they are a worthy investment.