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Meet Tito the bulletproof dog
He's five years old, catches criminals for a living, and is (almost) bulletproof.
Tito is, of course, a police dog.
And he's got a team of local dog lovers and school children working on his behalf to raise money for a new uniform.
"It's a ballistic vest," explains Tito's partner in fighting crime, West Shore RCMP Const. Dion Sutton. "It's more for high-risk calls, where there could be a danger to the dog and myself. It's just a bit of extra protection."
And between Cowichan's Tyee Kennel Club and George Bonner Middle School, Tito should have his $2,000 vest in no time.
"It's great that we have dogs out there that support us in our every day life, but sometimes we forget they need a little extra protection in their work — they don't always meet nice people," says Tyee club president Margaret Jones.
The local club got the ball rolling, and George Bonner students added about $500 toward the pot.
"All the other dogs have (a vest), but Tito's is too big," said Grade 8 Bonner student Owen Laurie, adding the students hosted the police pooch pair during the school's Trot for Tito fundraiser on Friday.
Fellow student Alexandra Leuvex said the students have also collected change in support of Tito's new threads, and hosted a hat day fundraiser recently.
"They did an unbelievable job," Sutton said of the students' efforts.
Tito's chuffed, too — he got to meet the kids during Friday's fundraiser.
"He's playful; he's still a puppy at heart," Sutton said. "He was excited, of course, with a big crowd. It was something new for him and he did really well. He enjoyed the kids."
Tito showed off his warm-up skills for the students on stage, and was also an effective ambassador.
"He's a great ice-breaker," Sutton explained.
"One of the teachers said it's just so nice to see the kids actually approach a police officer and talk about dogs in general, or even police work. He sets the kids at ease."
The police partners visited the Tyee Kennel Club's recent dog show, too. Sutton chatted with dog owners about their canines, and Tito.
"It got rid of some of the myths and rumours you hear about what police dogs actually do," Sutton said.
Tito and Sutton have been partners since going into training together in 2009, and now help with calls in the West Shore area, plus Cowichan when needed.