Protect the Paws: A K-9 Cause

By Brett L. Ward, CFI

Meet Tom & Colleen Stein: People Who Are Fundamentally Making a Difference

Every so often you have a moment that brings you back to what the world doesn’t highlight enough – positive community involvement.  Something that restores your faith in people and reminds you that all the negativity portrayed by the media doesn’t wipe away the handful of those bringing positive into the world. Those storing their treasure where it counts.

I received a note from a friend of mine the other day and experienced one of these moments.  We’re very proud of our CFI’s and the code of ethics they abide by, both within the walls of their professional life and beyond.  Thomas Stein, CFI, is one of these guys.  My relationship with Tom goes back 15+ years when he was running the LP department for HMS Host.  As Tom progressed through different assignments in his career, he continued to bring education to his teams knowing the difference it will make.  I have personally worked with Tom’s teams dozens of times throughout his assignments, and often received feedback from his people on how much they appreciate Tom’s desire to provide them the tools they need to be successful.  Tom leads by example.  That’s what leaders do – they hire up, and then equip their team.

When I learned of Tom and his wife Colleen’s latest act of kindness, I felt compelled to share.  Tom and his wife are fundamentally making a difference in their community and, at WZ, we embrace individuals who strive to achieve more.  As an organization WZ follows 16 Fundamental Statements that describe our values, behaviors, principles, and practices that are the foundation of our culture and recognizes individuals who demonstrate the characteristics.

Tom’s actions with Protect the Paws are exemplary, and consistent.  They touch on so many of the fundamentals the WZ Team lives by.  They have been donating bullet proof vests to police departments anonymously for 10+ years.  In 2015, the organization Point Blank introduced them to a non-profit organization in Miami called Protect The Paws, A K-9 Cause. Since Sept of 2015, they have facilitated the donation of roughly 32 custom made, Level II bullet proof vests for K-9 Officers throughout the states of Florida, Ohio and, this month, 14 vests will be donated to agencies and departments throughout Maryland.

Tom explained to me how critical this life safety issue is for both the handlers and of course the dogs. They can’t focus on split second critical decisions while worrying about their K-9 partners being injured or killed. This puts both their safety at risk.  Departments pay $15,000 on average for these trained dogs then, unfortunately, have to place them in harm’s way – often times without any protection. Most departments can’t afford, or chose not to buy these vests due to the associated cost.

The mission of Protect The Paws is to armor every K-9 Officer that doesn’t have a bullet proof vest.  They are also donating pet oxygen masks with each vest for emergency measures. These vests are custom made and custom fitted to each individual K-9 by Point Blank, and cost $730.00 each. The masks cost about $40.00 each.  An incredible gesture by the Stein’s to work with Protect the Paws through different fundraising efforts, along with personal financial contributions.  Again, storing your treasure where it counts.

We love their mission and hope other IAI members, CFIs and friends will want to learn more about what a truly worthwhile organization this is.  My hat’s off to Tom and his wife Colleen and their commitment to Protect the Paws.