By KENDAL GAPINSKI
WEST GOSHEN – The Chester County SPCA received 12 bulletproof vests from the Westtown-East Goshen Regional Police Department Wednesday to help protect animal control officers.
According to the shelter, the WEGO Police Department donated the 12 expired vests, which cost approximately $800 each. The vests will be used by the five members of the shelter’s animal protective services department when out in the field.
According to Christy Pelosi, animal protective services coordinator, the department works closely with the county’s various police departments, picking up stray animals and dealing with animal cruelty and neglect cases.
Pelosi said that the vests will help to ensure that officers can complete their jobs safely.
“I can’t even tell you how grateful I am for the Westtown-East Goshen Police Department,” said Pelosi. “To know that they have some level of protection, it helps give me a sense of relief.”
Pelosi noted that there had been cases around the country where animal control officers were shot and killed as they tried to save animals.
Pelosi said that she wanted to ensure that her department workers “are able to return home to their families every day” and the vests will help ensure that.
WEGO Police Chief Brenda Bernot said that the department decided to donate the vests after a detective made them aware that the animal protective services department at the CCSPCA operated without basic protective equipment, like the vests.
“They’re on the front line,” said Bernot.
Bernot said that the 12 vests were expired and felt that instead of destroying them, as typically done by departments, it would be better to donate them to the CCSPCA.
Bernot said that the process to donate the vests was difficult, adding that both the CCSCPA and Police Department had to go through “legal obstacles,” but said that it was worth it to offer some small protection to the CCSPCA officers.
“These officers are in harm’s way because they don’t have the basic protective equipment that other officers often take for granted,” said Bernot.
She added that in an “ideal world” the animal control department would have new vests fitted perfectly for each officer, but was happy that the WEGO Police Department could offer a little help.
“This lets me sleep a little better at night,” said Bernot.
Board member Bud Haley was at the event Wednesday. He said that he was grateful that the shelter will be a little bit safer when out performing their duties.
“I’m just glad that these guys here are protected,” said Haley. “Out there, you never know what they will encounter. It’s a very passionate business.”