She's a trooper

August 20, 2002|by DAN KULIN /Staff Writer

To thank 10-year-old Emily Bolton for raising the money to buy bulletproof vests for police dogs, Maryland State Police Superintendent Col. David B. Mitchell made Emily an honorary state police trooper on Monday.

Emily, of Hagerstown, raised $13,300 to buy bulletproof vests for 25 police dogs in the Hagerstown Police Department, Washington County Sheriff's Office and Maryland State Police. She presented vests to the police agencies and was thanked for her efforts during a ceremony Monday at the state police barrack in Hagerstown.

"Now as a result of one young lady who cared, we can do something to protect our police dog partners," Mitchell said.


The five dogs working with city police and the four dogs with the sheriff's department did not have bulletproof vests before Emily raised the money to buy them. Both agencies received five vests from Emily.

"It's great because every time I go on the street I have a vest, so it's good my partner will too," said Hagerstown Police Officer Justin Wert, who was at the ceremony with Angel, the department's chocolate Labrador bomb dog.

Of the 32 state police dogs, 15 already had vests that had been donated by other people. Emily raised enough money to buy 15 more vests for state police dogs.

"She pretty much outfit the rest of our dogs," Capt. Roger Meeks said. "The dogs are great assets and this protects those assets."

Meeks said each police dog costs $3,500 to $4,500.

Emily first thought of raising money for dog bulletproof vests after reading a story about a dog and a girl who undertook a similar fund-raising effort in the book "Chicken Soup for the Pre-Teen Soul."

With the help of her parents, Emily put collection boxes in seven veterinarian offices in Washington County during March. They also set up a bank account for Emily's Vest-A-Dog project.

Initially, Emily's goal was to raise enough money to buy vests for the Hagerstown police dogs. But in only two weeks Emily raised $5,000, so she set her sites higher.

In about three months Emily reached and surpassed her goal of $12,500, the cost of 25 vests.

Emily said she will donate the rest of the $13,300 to help buy protective boots for police dogs. The boots would protect the dogs' paws when, for example, they walk over broken glass, she said.

Emily said she was surprised by the level of support from the community.

During the ceremony Monday, Emily was presented with resolutions from the state Senate and House of Delegates by Sen. Donald F. Munson, R-Washington, and delegates Christopher B. Shank, R-Washington, Robert A. McKee, R-Washington, and John P. Donoghue, D-Washington.

Emily, a sixth-grader at Smithsburg Middle School, received plaques and/or gifts from city police, the sheriff's department and state police.

"I had a lot of fun doing this project, and I encourage and challenge" other children to do similar projects, Emily said.

"We're real proud of her," Emily's mother JoAnn Bolton said. "We knew it was a big thing she was getting into. It's remarkable how she got the support of the community."

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