By Ed Brock
Jessica Defee has always loved police dogs.
"Even as a kid she would insist on buying a bone for the K-9 unit," said Susan Defee, mother of the 13-year-old Mt. Zion High School student.
Now Jessica, who lives in Lake City, is working on providing something more useful than a bone for her favorite police unit. She wants to raise $19,200 to buy 16 special bulletproof vests for police dogs with the Clayton County and Lake City police departments.
She previously raised $480 but last week the management of the Wal-Mart on Jonesboro Road in Morrow put her another $1,000 closer to her goal. Clayton County police K-9 Officer Pete Thompson and his police dog Zeus joined Wal-Mart manager Louis Bonora and about 50 employees for a check presentation at the store on Thursday.
Jessica's "Vest-a-Dog" campaign started when Jessica read a book in the "Chicken Soup for the Soul," series by Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen that offer advice on realizing one's dreams. Once she made up her mind to raise the money she got letters of support from the departments she's trying to help and then started going door to door.
"I've been going to Petco and asking people for money," Jessica said.
She's also been organizing demonstrations of what the dogs do and holding those demonstrations at the Morrow Wal-Mart. She hopes to have another demonstration in October, said Jessica's father Jim Defee.
"These dogs put their lives on the line for us and their handlers and deserve all the protection we can give them," Jessica said in a statement she released previously.
There's another purpose behind her cause, Susan Defee said.
"This is to bring it to the public's attention about what the K-9 units do," Defee said.
Defee's efforts are appreciated by beneficiaries.
"We are definitely proud of her accomplishments and the fact that she's taken an interest in her local police department," Clayton County police Capt. Jeff Turner said. "We're happy and proud to serve her and the rest of the community."
Jim Defee said it might be some time next year before Jessica can reach her goal. For information on the "Vest-a-Dog" campaign call (404) 379-0213.