his girlfriend, Jana Herbert, are trying to make life safer for the
city's police dogs.
On Tuesday, a pair of Costa Mesa police canines -- two Belgian
Malinois named Bart and Nero -- were each outfitted with bulletproof
The protective gear was made available through the efforts of Donahue
and Herbert, who spent a year raising $3,700 to purchase the vests for
K-9 units at local police stations.
They have provided two vests to the Huntington Beach Police Department
and will soon donate some to Fountain Valley police as well.
The pair got some help from Vest-A-Dog, a nonprofit group started when
11-year-old Stephanie Taylor of Vista, Calif., donated $120 to the cause.
The specialized ballistic vests, which cost about $650 apiece, are
intended to protect police dogs from gunshots and knives, but do not
interfere with their performance.
The dogs will wear the vests when searching for armed suspects and
during SWAT calls, said Costa Mesa Police Officer Paul Ellis.
"This makes me feel a lot more secure," Ellis said. "It's much more
safe for them."
The K-9 unit assists officers with narcotics, building and area
searches. But they won't wear the vests during day-to-day activities
because they will cause the dogs to overheat, Ellis said. However, the
vests are lightweight and do allow for air circulation.
Costa Mesa Police Chief Dave Snowden presented plaques to Herbert,
Donahue and Taylor for their contributions.
Herbert helped to raise money by putting up donation boxes at local
As an animal lover, she was pleased to see her goal become reality.
"If I had a house, I'd own nothing but cats and dogs," she said.