BIG Hero! Small Package

She might only be 6-years old, but Kayleigh Crimmins is a hero to the Newport News Sheriff’s Office.  This little girl from Chesapeake, VA is on a mission to outfit all police dogs with bulletproof vests.

Since coming up with the idea for Kids for K9s, Inc., she has donated vests to K9 Units in Maryland, Virginia, California and North Carolina.  Most recently, she generously gave this lifesaving gift to Vader, a Newport News Sheriff’s Office K9.

Vader is dual-purpose dog trained in both narcotics detection and patrol.  His handler, Corporal Wayne Hill, said, “I feel honored and blessed that someone as young as her is motivated to do what she does.”  The Newport News Sheriff’s Office met Kayleigh at a Virginia Police Work Dog Association Banquet where she and her mother, Lee Crimmins, had set up an information table.

Resounding applause filled City Council Chambers on October 13, 2009 when Kayleigh officially presented the vest to Cpl. Hill and Vader.  You would have thought the girl and dog were close friends the way they interacted.  In truth, this was only their second meeting.  As a lifelong dog lover, Kayleigh was completely at ease.

Kayleigh’s mission to keep police dogs safe came when she learned not all departments could afford to outfit their K9s with bulletproof vests.

“Her dad’s a police officer,” explained Lee Crimmins.  “Not a K9 officer.  Never has been.  But as a detective, he sometimes trains how to work around dogs when they are at a scene together.”

This is where Kayleigh picked up the story, “My dad, umm, he called us and said ‘You want to come out and watch some police dogs?’ And my mom said yes.  And we went and watched the dogs.  Then we went home and did a scrapbook.”

It was then, looking at the photographs, that the little girl made a big discovery.  One dog was wearing a vest.  Another was not.  That was completely unacceptable to Kayleigh.  Immediately she started talking about how to raise money.  She began selling her toys.  First on Craigslist, then at yard sales.  She started collecting cans and selling t-shirts and car decals.  All of this in an effort to protect the dogs.  Lee has taught her young daughter, “The dogs are doing just like the human officers.  They’re getting bad people off the street.  Which in turn makes our community more safe.”

They train together and work as a team.  The animal plays a valuable role often in the face of great danger.  The relationship between handler and K9 is like no other.  In addition to being partners on the job, many of the animals are part of the family, living in their handlers’ homes.

So when it came to accepting a gift that could save his partner’s life, Cpl. Hill’s gratitude ran deep, “It’s just amazing at six years old, the idea she had and how it has expanded   And having the support from her mother and father to help do that.  That’s the best thing to have that support to fulfill her dream.”

Sheriff Gabe Morgan also had high praise for this remarkable girl, “When a child can step up and see a need and make it happen at six years old, we have to wonder what’s going to happen when she becomes 24, 25, 30.  This is a future leader.  Again, Kayleigh, thank you for all that you’ve done for all the law enforcement agencies that you have supported.”

Kids for K9s, Inc. is approved as a 501(c)(3) tax exempt public charity.  Learn more or make a donation by going to www.kidsfork9s.com.

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