Dog lover Anderson Cooper is a hero to the Norfolk Police Department, thanks to a generous donation that will save the lives of the department’s four-footed officers.
Krijger, a beloved member of the Norfolk K-9 unit, was shot and killed while on duty on January 11, 2016.
“It is with heavy hearts we announce the loss of a loyal and dedicated member of the Norfolk Police Department,” the department posted on their Facebook page.
The criminal who murdered Krijger was shot by police. He died from his wounds after being taken into custody.
It is likely that the dog would have survived the shooting if he had been properly outfitted with a bulletproof vest.
Bulletproof vests for officer canines are about $2,200 each, so many departments in the nation do not have them.
Retired Navy SEAL Jimmy Hatch is a former military dog handler who runs a charity dedicated to helping military and police dogs. When Hatch read about Krijger’s death, he immediately launched a fundraising campaign to raise money to buy bulletproof and stab-resistant vests for the other Norfolk K-9s.
Hatch reached the right audience.
Last year, CNN anchor Anderson Cooper interviewed Hatch about a night in 2009 in which he was injured on a mission to rescue Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl in Afghanistan.
Cooper saw a post on social media about Hatch’s fundraising effort. He decided to donate the entire fee from his January 26 “Norfolk Forum” speaking engagement at Chrysler Hall in Norfolk.
Although the specific amount of the donation has not been released, it is enough to buy vests for all of the rest of the department K-9s.
There has been an outpouring of praise for Cooper and Hatch since the announcement was made. Many of the comments come from other police departments. The officers know how much they depend on their canine colleagues.
Hatch said Cooper “wasn’t keen on me publicizing his donation, but I told him I was going to do it anyway. He’s such a good dude. And genuine.”
There will be enough money left to donate some vests to other regional K-9 units.
“We are at a loss for words,” wrote the nearby Hampton Police.
Hatch has seen more than one dog give its life to protect soldiers in action. His charity, Spike’s K9 Fund, is named for the first dog he took into combat.
“Dogs saved me,” Hatch said.
He also volunteers to work with the dogs and handlers in the police department.
He had worked with Krijger.
“My heart is broken for Krijger’s handler,” he said. “Among dogs, he stood out.”
The department held a private memorial service for Krijger. He was laid to rest at the Garden of the Pines Pet Cemetery in Virginia Beach with full police honors.
Members of the public paid tribute along the hero’s funeral procession.
“Rest in peace, Krijger,” the department wrote, “Your work is done, but never forgotten.”
With the help of Cooper’s donation, maybe the department won’t ever face this kind of loss again.