By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Turning passion into protection for canines
Placeholder Image
BRODHEAD - A Brodhead girl is working to make the streets a little safer for canines that protect and serve.

Kaitlyn Simpson, 12, has worked the past two years to raise money for Wisconsin Vest-A-Dog, a non-profit organization that provides bullet-proof and stab-proof vests for police dogs. The organization aims to outfit every one of the more than 235 police dogs in the state of Wisconsin.

But the dog vests don't come inexpensively - each vests costs $840. Many police departments don't have the funds to outfit their police dogs.

Simpson's interest in the program was piqued after realizing the Vest-A-Dog donation box at her father Tom's office, Sugar River Veterinary Service, was languishing.

"It never had any money in it," she said.

Simpson wanted to rectify that.

"I decided I wanted to do something to raise money," she said.

The line of work the dogs perform in is just as dangerous as that of their human counterparts, Vest-A-Dog said, in its brochure.

"K-9 police dogs are an important and necessary part of crime prevention. Every day they loyally carry out their dangerous work to keep us safe. They deserve the same level of protection as their human partners," the brochure said. "Most of them do not have protection. With your help and generosity, we can protect them as they courageously serve to protect us."

To raise money to help the police dog effort, Simpson turned to her love of photography, an interest she's had since she was about 8 years old.

During the 2008 Fall Festival in Brodhead, she took photos of people's pet dogs at the Bank of Brodhead for a donation. She repeated the effort during this year's festival.

So far, she's photographed dogs and a couple of children. But being an avid shutterbug, she also takes photos of her own cats.

It's important to keep police dogs safe, she said. The Vest-A-Dog organization said more than a dozen dogs are killed each year, most shot or stabbed by suspects being apprehended.

"They are in a lot of danger," she said. "It's not really their fault."

To date, Simpson has raised $225 for the organization and plans to keep going. Her mother Jeanne is hoping to arrange a picture-taking event in Monroe soon. And family friend Beth Kille, a musician known to local audiences as the lead singer for the band Clear Blue Betty, pitched in tips from a performance.

When Simpson raises $840, the cost of one vest, Vest-A-Dog will let her select the lucky canine recipient.

She's not sure when she might reach her goal.

"Hopefully soon," she said.