ST. GEORGE — Bikers, Christians, law enforcement officials and veterans gathered at Zion Harley-Davidson in Washington on Saturday, and it was all for the dogs.
Various organizations teamed up to put on a barbecue fundraiser that collected money for local law enforcement agencies to purchase safety vests for K-9 officers.
Vesting American Police K-9 Officers is a national nonprofit organization based in St. George. The organization has helped get at least one K-9 officer a safety vest in all 50 states.
Founder Cathy Williams told St. George News that a typical K-9 dog costs a police department $20,000 to $25,000.
“So there’s a tremendous need because they often don’t have anything left over to buy vests with,” Williams said. “We can’t thank Zion Harley-Davidson enough for helping us put on this event, it’s a humongous help.”
K-9 officers from Washington City Police, Washington County Sheriff’s Office and the Utah Division of Wildlife Department of Natural Resources were on hand to answer questions from the public and to show off their dogs. But mostly, people just wanted to see what the dogs can do.
The lobby at Zion Harley-Davidson was filled with dogs of all kinds, both in the crowd and participating in the demonstrations.
“We contacted Cathy Williams and told her we’d like to put on an event,” Zion Harley-Davidson General Manager Laura Lavigne said. “We wanted to do it because we respect the dogs out there and the police officers.
“I don’t feel like they get enough recognition these days,” Lavigne added. “We want to make sure everybody’s out there safely protecting us.”
Outside, visitors could purchase a barbecue lunch with all proceeds going to buy vests. Veterans put up a spread of hamburgers and hot dogs and served it to the public.
“It’s just something we love to do for the animals and for our police departments,” Dan Greathouse, President of Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 961, said. “The public doesn’t understand what the K-9’s do for them, they just don’t understand that these dogs are out there to protect them.”
Truth Messengers #1368, the Southern Utah Chapter of Christian Motorcyclists Association, handed out materials at a booth during the barbecue.
Chapter President Steve Gaither said the association is a worldwide ministering organization.
“We have literature and things to hand out just to be a blessing,” Gaither said. “We bless bikes mainly and the riders. Today we’ve been tasked with blessing also the K-9 dogs that are here. We try to support our local law enforcement as much as possible. We’re just here to be a light in the dark world.”
Bikers participated in a Poker Run put on by Utah Harley Owners Group #4444.
“We’re putting on the Poker run out here today,” said Jeff Jackson, Director of H.O.G. “All the proceeds go to buying the K-9 officers some vests, and we’re just here to support the cause.”
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