Thanks to the care and compassion of a small but far-reaching organization based in central Georgia, Officer ‘Eros’ of the Merrill Police Department’s K9 unit received a gift last week which could potentially “pack” life-saving benefits.
As explained by Eros’ partner Officer Matt Drabek, the K9 first-aid pack is designed especially for police canines and was donated by an organization named “We Ride to Provide” (WRTP).
“I found out about the program from training with area K9 officers,” the seven-year department veteran explains. “The ‘We Ride to Provide’ organization is based on social media. To apply for the pack was just a matter of contacting the page admin. When and if a page member chooses to sponsor a pack for your K9, the pack is assembled and they ship it out free of charge.”
Eros was sponsored at the end of July and received his pack in the mail on Tuesday.
“I was pretty surprised by how much they have in there,” Drabek added upon inventorying the pack on Tuesday.
The pack weighs approximately five pounds and includes a variety of items and medications to serve almost any purpose.
From an infant diaper for bandaging and compression, to Benadryl and Toxiban (causes instant expulsion of ingested harmful materials), the pack has something for almost anything.
According to WRTP president and co-founder Holly Cripps, the organization was created in 2010 in Covington, GA following the sudden and unexpected death of a police K9 from heat exhaustion, in a nearby jurisdiction.
“After we heard about K9 Arris, we decided we needed to do something to help these guys save their dogs!”
Cripps, with the help of her husband Police Chief Jason Cripps of the Porterdale, GA Police Department, initially started off by offering first-aid courses for K9’s and their handlers and soon evolved into issuing kits to nearby agencies and other agencies within the state of Georgia.
“The first unit to get the kit was Jason and his partner Beau,” Holly adds. “The first kits were very minimal at that time and packed in flimsy zip-up bags, but they were donated and that’s all we had!”
The couple and their organization continued their mission, and by 2013 were soliciting donations, assembling and distributing first aid kits to K9 teams all over the country.
On July 4 of 2013, Holly learned of the first K9 saved by one of her kits.
While on-duty, K9 Orion with the Oconee County Georgia Sheriffs Office had been bitten by a large venomous snake, Orion’s partner quickly administered a dose of Benadryl from the first-aid pack, which ultimately spared precious time until Deputy Partain could get Orion to his veterinarian. WRTP’s kits have saved a total of six K9 officers including one such K9 who ingested rat poison while clearing a building in Franklin County, Alabama.
K9 Chill’s partner immediately administered peroxide which caused Chill to vomit a portion of the poison. Being nearly four hours away from the nearest veterinarian, Deputy Seahorn administered the Toxiban as a precaution, which ultimately caused Chill to expel the rest of the poison.
Although the kits’ intended purpose is for dogs, Holly was quite pleased to learn of one of her kits being used in life saving efforts for a K9 officer who had severed arteries in his hand.
“My heart is for the dogs, but if one of our kits can save the life of a human, all the better,” Holly adds. “I have also been told of the kits being used to treat perpetrators. Again, even though they are not intended for human use, if they can be used for that purpose, that’s fine by me.”
To date, the organization has distributed 750 kits in 42 states including Alaska and Puerto Rico. The Cripps’ mission has also gone international with kits in-service in Brazil, Switzerland and Great Britain.
We Ride to Provide also remains very involved in providing K9 First Aid training as well as memorial services for fallen K9’s.
The orgzanization’s motto is and always has been “Paying Tribute to Those Lost, by Providing For Those Left Behind.”