BLUEFIELD — A city K-9 unit now has extra gear to protect his eyes from summer glare as well as potential dangers during tracking and the takedown of bad guys.
Bluefield Police Department K-9 Thor is sporting Rex Specs goggles to help him transition quickly from the dark interior of a SUV cruiser to the bright summer sun. The glasses were donated to the department by Appalachian Eye Care of Mercer County.
“The glasses will help Thor make the transition into bright light when he engages coming from the vehicle,” Bluefield Police Department Administrative Assistant Kevin Fleming said. “They will also protect his eyes during apprehension and tracking subjects in wooded areas.”
Fleming said K-9 units are in danger of being hit by sticks and other objects while pursuing suspects, and their face and eyes can be a target during takedowns.
The goggles “are a tool they need, but a luxury item in our budget,” Fleming said.
Fleming noted that K-9 units cost around $10,500, and are valued at $25,000 once training is complete.
“They are investments we have to protect,” Fleming said. “They are no good without their eyes. We are glad Appalachian Eye Care stepped up and helped us out.”
Andi Fleming, of Appalachian Eye Care, said there are a variety of goggles available for different types of working dogs.
“They protect their eyes,” she said. “Eye care is important for all of us.”
Andi Fleming also noted the glasses will help Thor transition from light to dark areas, and protect his eyes from briars and thorns. An added bonus: He looks cool wearing them.
Appalachian Eye Care doctors Christopher Hansen and Bradley Lane were both “supportive and encouraging of this project,” Andi Fleming said.
Kevin Fleming is hopeful more donors will come forward and help purchase goggles for the departments three other K-9 units — Gregor, Niko and Ace.
The glasses cost about $100 per pair.
Donations to the K-9 unit can be sent to the Bluefield Police Department, 200 South Mercer Street, Bluefield, WV, 24701. Please note “K-9 donation” in the memo portion of checks.
— Contact Samantha Perry at email@example.com