Three Palo Alto police dogs were presented with canine bulletproof vests during the police department's promotion ceremony at City Hall Tuesday.
The vests were donated to the police department by New Mexico resident Susie Jean, whose nonprofit group Vest 'N P.D.P provides bulletproof vests to police dogs nationwide.
Jean founded Vest 'N P.D.P in 2002 after watching a television program in which a police dog died after being shot in the line of duty. She had recently lost her own dogs to cancer, she said, which made the program seem especially poignant.
"I kind of just turned to my husband and said 'I can't believe they don't have vests,'" she said.
Jean has donated approximately 500 vests to police dogs in 39 states since then, she said.
During the ceremony Jean personally presented the vests to the canine officers and their human handlers. Two of the dogs leapt up to greet Jean and sniff their new equipment.
"That's why I do what I do. Aren't they beautiful?" Jean said.
A police dog from the East Bay Regional Parks District was also given a vest during the ceremony.
Police Agent Duane Tannock's canine partner, Ilan, received one of the vests. The vests help officers feel comfortable sending the dogs on search operations, Tannock said.
"It's great ... these guys are our partners, they're our livelihood. They protect us. They'll put their life on the line for us without even thinking about it," he said.
Ilan is new to the police department, having been on patrol for just two weeks. Tannock said he and Ilan often take part in search operations or respond to violent crimes but sometimes help with standard duties as well.
Later in the ceremony, new police officers Paul Burgio, Cynthia Kono and Jeremy Schmidt were formally sworn in to the department by police Captain Mark Venable. Department employee Karen McAdams was also promoted to the position of parking manager.