Arcola, Ill. (WCIA)–
At the Arcola Police Department, Officer Nick Suding’s name hangs proudly on the wall.
But if you look at the frame next to his, you’ll find a plaque for Officer Suding’s partner, patrolman Nas.
Except this patrolman isn’t a man at all.
“He’s my buddy, he’s with me 24/7. He stays with me when I go home from duty…he really is my partner,” Officer Suding said.
Nas, a Dutch Shepard, has worked with Suding since he was a puppy. Now, the K9 is trained and certified in narcotics, can track missing people, and conduct article searches.
ciLiving Storyteller, Erin Valle, rode along with Officer Suding and Nas to Moore Memorial Park in Arcola. It was here Nas demonstrated his understanding of Dutch commands and tracked a crystal meth sample Suding had hid under the park bleachers.
“Working with these dogs is very satisfying. You have to do a lot of hard work, we’re mandated to have 16 hours of training a month, so it’s really gratifying when all the hard work and training pays off and you see your dog go into action,” Officer Suding said.
And when these dogs go into action, it’s important they’re well protected.
Vests shield police dogs from stabbings and gun fire. Narcan kits reverse drug overdoses in the event a K9 is exposed to opioids, including fentanyl.
And of course, basic first aid is crucial.
The only problem, this gear can costs around $1200 and many police departments struggle to obtain it all.
That’s why one local animal lover named Jane Dallas decided to take action.
“Police departments are underfunded and..sometimes the very first contact that the police department is gonna have is gonna be that K9, so they need to be protected as well,” Dallas said.
Dallas has managed to donate thousands of dollars through the Protecting K9 Heroes organization. Now, six police dogs across the state are protected because of her. Including Nas, whose ballistic vest, Narcan kit, and first-aid were provided because of Dallas’ sponsorship.
Arcola’s Green Mill Village recently awarded her with a certificate of appreciation at their Heroes’ Day Festival.
“I wasn’t expecting it all, so it was a thrill,” Dallas said. “Just to all the officers, thank you and stay safe. And to all the K9s, run fast, bite hard.”