They're the silent heroes, keeping us safe day in and day out without complaint, protest, or even a paycheck. They often die just as quietly, with no one but their handler to remember their service and their sacrifice. These special heroes are Police K-9s, and one Georgia-based organization is determined to give them the recognition they deserve.
"We Ride to Provide" was started by Holly Cripps and her husband Jason in 2010 to help their local K-9 unit with much-needed supplies. Most of these units receive no government funding for their dog's vital supplies, including harnesses, collars, and other training equipment. Holly was horrified when she found out that many handlers were paying out of pocket for this basic equipment, and We Ride to Provide was born.
The organization recognizes every Police K-9 in the area that passes away, whether the dog passes in the line of duty, or if they pass away from sickness or old age. Holly believes that regardless of the manner of death, the dogs deserve to be honored in the same way. Each handler receives a flag in honor of their lost partner, which Sgt. Paul Corso says is an incredibly special way for them to honor and remember their canine partners. Corso has said goodbye to three dogs in the course of his career, all due to old age, and the sting of their loss fades little over time. Holly's passion for helping and honoring these K-9s and their handlers is palpable, and she tears up as she tells me stories about some of the dogs who have passed away in the last few years.
The group's biggest fundraiser is a motorcycle ride just outside Atlanta, GA, where people ride to raise money to provide supplies for local K-9 units. This year's event is taking place on May 31st, 2014, and is free to the public. Always featured at the ride is the organization's trailer that carries the names of all the K-9s that have passed away over the years. The names cover almost the entire wall of the trailer. It's a sad, beautiful, and important reminder of the scope of police K-9's dedication to keeping us safe.
I'm incredibly humbled to have had the honor of meeting the wonderful Holly and Jason. Their passion and support of our K-9 units is extraordinary, and I know there are many people and dogs who are grateful for the work they do.