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Online fund drive aims to get K-9 officer a vest

NATCHEZ — A Natchez resident has set up a GoFundMe account to raise money to purchase a safety vest for Toon, the Natchez Police Department’s K-9 officer.

“The main concern is this dog is risking his life just like his partners are, and he has no protection, so I wanted to start that,” said Tricia Dawson, who started the GoFundMe page “K-9 Vest for Officer Toon” in July. “I’ve already got $400, and we need $2,000 for the vest.”

Dawson said Natchez Police Chief Walter Armstrong said any extra money raised beyond the money needed for a vest could go toward other purchases.

“They would use it either for another dog or another dog vest or for a new car because they need a bigger vehicle for the dog, you know because he is in the back of the car,” Dawson said.

Dawson said she and her husband, Duane, who is originally from Natchez, moved to Natchez in August 2019.

“My husband is from here, and we were looking … and found a home up here that we fell in love with and God just kind of worked it out,” Dawson said, adding Duane works at Stribling and she works in the library at the Copiah-Lincoln Community College Natchez campus. “Here we are … we moved and love it, absolutely love it.”

Tricia said she saw in the newspaper last April that the police department got the new police dog, a Belgian Malinois, and named him Toon.

“I watch a lot of cop shows that show the K-9s going in and they are not protected and I thought, My goodness,” Tricia said. “They are putting their little lives on the line. … They are just obeying their partner, and they are not protected. They could get easily killed. I just saw that our K-9 didn’t have a vest and I thought that his partner and all the police force have vests and they treat him just like an officer and he is an officer so why isn’t he vested up?”

That’s when Tricia said she decided to start the GoFundMe page that can be found at https://www.gofundme.com/f/k9-vest-for-officer-toon.

People who are not comfortable giving online can take payments to the Natchez Police Department at 233 Devereux Drive, Natchez, or mail the donations to that address.

“This dog is a police dog, so he should have the same equipment and opportunity to be safe as his team, as his partners,” Tricia said.

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