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Dog with tongue out

AHF Donates Vest to K9 Officer Prinz

OC Register - Tuesday, January 13, 2015


LA HABRA – We might cringe when pet owners put sweaters and costumes on their dogs, dressing them up like toddlers or Christmas ornaments.

But, really, some pooches do need a vest.

Take Prinz, a 7-year-old Belgian Malinois who’s trained to herd more than sheep. He works like a ... well, you get it.

Prinz is one of four K-9 officers for the La Habra Police Department, and he shouldn’t be expected to go to work as naked as a porn star.

Prinz and his handler, Cpl. Nick Baclit, are dispatched regularly to unfamiliar, sometimes dark and dangerous scenes. There, together, they investigate, sniff out narcotics, search for evidence and possibly pursue armed suspects.

Baclit has a gun and a bulletproof vest. He also has a K-9 partner who’ll lead the way.

For five years Prinz has had only his instincts for personal protection at work. This made him more vulnerable to bullets, knives and other weapons or projectiles.

This never sat (or stayed or rolled over) well with Baclit, especially after March, when <a 950="" a="" about="" all="" also="" an="" anaheim="" and="" armor="" around="" arrangement="" assisting="" baclit="" ballistic="" be="" been="" belly="" both="" bruno="" buckle="" cash-strapped="" chase="" chest="" combed="" comfortable="" comfortable.="" cops="" corporate="" cost="" could="" cover="" cover.="" covina="" custom-fitted="" d="" danger="" day="" decided="" dodging="" dogs="" dogs.="" donors="" dual="" durable="" during="" east="" every="" express="" faithfully="" few="" foot="" for="" found="" from="" gemini="" get="" gets="" give="" gone="" gun-toting="" has="" have="" having="" he="" head="" hearing="" heartbroken.="" data-cke-saved-href="\\" href="\\" i="" in="" including="" interest="" it="" k-9="" k9s="" knew="" knowing="" like="" little="" lives="" lot="" mass.-based="" me="" money="" months="" more="" neither="" news="" nonprofit="" nor="" nylon="" of="" officer="" officers="" on="" our="" patrol.="" pays="" peace="" per="" police="" prinz="" private="" proud="" provide="" real="" recovered.="" reiko="" s="" said="" shopping="" shot="" some="" special="" spike="" standoff="" studied="" survived="" t="" that="" the="" then="" they="" this="" those="" thought="" through="" title="\\" anaheim"="" to="" train="" until="" uses="" vest="" vest.="" vested="" vests="" was="" we="" wear="" wearing="" were="" west="" while="" with="" would="">Baclit submitted an application for Prinz’s vest in October. Then Animal Health Foundation, a Lake Forest nonprofit, stepped in to make the $950 donation so Prinz could get covered – literally – for free.

Vested has donated more than 1,200 ballistic K9 vests since 2009, and Sandy Marcal, company president, said she was “glad we were able to help La Habra.”

So was Baclit.

“Prinz is a part of the my family and our police force. He belongs to our community, and our city. We should protect him because he protects us.”

Prinz has located stashes of drugs in dark warehouses. He has tracked down carjacking suspects.

He has sniffed out vital evidence, like a firearm in an attempted murder and knives in stabbings.

“He does a lot of dangerous work,” Baclit said. “He puts himself in danger so I can be safer.”

Now that he is vested, Prinz will be safer, too.

He’s one dog we shouldn’t mind seeing dressed up.

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