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By Kim Ring
Telegram & Gazette Staff

Worcester County Sheriff’s Department Officer Peter Campo, left, and his trained bloodhound, Maya, show her new protective vest to Sheriff Lewis G. Evangelidis on Tuesday. The vest was provided by Vested Interest in K9’s. T&G Staff/Kim Ring

WEST BOYLSTON – Maya, a 2-year-old bloodhound who works in the Worcester County sheriff’s office with her partner, Officer Peter Campo, is a gangly, happy mass of extra long ears and oversized paws, but she fits nicely into her new protective vest.

The vest, which is bulletproof and stab-proof, arrived this week, and Maya, one of four members of Sheriff Lewis G. Evangelidis’ K9 team, is the second to be outfitted with a vest. This one came courtesy of Vested Interest in K9s of East Taunton.

“I worry about her all the time,” Officer Campo said of Maya, adding that the vest provides an added measure of security for the times when Maya, a single-purpose dog whose specialty is tracking, is called out to work.

When he took office six years ago, Sheriff Evangelidis said, the department’s K9 program was on the verge of ending because of budgetary constraints. After some brainstorming, the program was reshaped to use rescue dogs, including Maya, who was rescued from Iowa. Nikita, a narcotics detection dog, has gained some fame on a television show, and the sheriff’s program has grown in popularity as a result.

“We got a call from the Holden Women’s Club and they wanted to support the program, too,” Sheriff Evangelidis said.

Worcester County Sheriff Officer Peter Campo with his K9 partner, Maya, in her new protective vest. T&G Staff/Kim Ring

To pay for Maya’s vest, a “Santa Paws and Grinch” fundraiser was hosted by Especially for Pets in Medway in 2015. The vests are valued at between $1,795 and $2,234 each, and the cost to donate one is just over $1,000.

The vest weighs as much as 5 pounds, Officer Campo said, but doesn’t seem to restrict Maya. He said she’s wearing it a bit loosely to get used to it and pointed out that it also can be used to carry her or to clip her to him.

The Vested Interest in K9s program has provided more than 2,000 vests across the country, including one this summer for Elmar in the Worcester Police Department. Each of the donated vests is labeled in memory of a fallen police K9. Maya’s vest has an embroidered patch in memory of K9s Molly and Adam. Armour Express in Central Lake, Michigan, makes the vests.