Canines with the Maine State Police are sporting a new look and better protection!

Pictured is Winger , a 2 ½ year old Belgian Malinois, wearing his new protective vest. Winger patrols in Washington and Hancock counties with Trooper Christopher Smith.

Eight dogs from the State Police canine team have received new protective vests thanks to donations from a Massachusetts charity and a national chain of pet supply stores. The vests, which are bullet and stab proof , will help protect the dogs as they work with their Trooper partners around Maine. The vests cost $950. each.

Among the eight State Police canine teams receiving the vests was Sgt. Chad Fuller and Gleni from Troop F here in Aroostook County.

The vests were donated thanks to efforts from Vested Interest in K9s Inc, a charity from East Taunton, MA, which has provided vests to over 400 police dogs around the country. The Petco Foundation is a major contributor to the charity, with money raised from fund raising events at the company’s 1,200 stores. Another contributor to the effort was a former New York police officer, now living in Sorrento, Maine. 83-year-old Madeleine Hamersley donated funding to equip a number of dogs around the country, including Winger, who patrols near her home.

State Police Sgt. Blaine Bronson, who runs the department’s canine training program, said all of the State Police’s 18 patrol dogs are equipped with protective vests. Bronson said the new vests have gone to patrol dogs recently trained, or veteran dogs whose previous vests have worn out. The Troopers and their dogs annually respond to about 1,200 calls.