Leadership group raises money for K-9 vests | News

SEVIERVILLE — Apache will soon get a vest, as will eight other K-9 officers who serve in Sevier County. Donations of the protective gear to three local police agencies are happening thanks to the work of four members of 2021 Leadership Tomorrow. Chase Singleton, assistant general manager at Wilderness of the Smokies, is one of the members of what is known as Team Four in the program that is part of Leadership Sevier. Each group chooses a community service project to complete during their time in the program. “Being a current reserve officer, I heard a couple of years ago about a similar program in Texas,” Singleton said of his group’s decision to raise money for protective gear for area K-9s. The name of their endeavor is Operation Bulletproof Bark. Others working on the group project are Ashley Burnette-Davis of Kellum Creek Business Solutions, Lauren Logan of Tennessee State Bank and Turner Whaley of KaTom Restaurant Supply. Singleton contacted each of the four police agencies in Sevier County and found that all but the Gatlinburg Police Department were in need of bulletproof vests for some of their K-9s. One vest will go to the Sevier County Sheriff’s Office, three to the Pigeon Forge Police Department and five to the Sevierville Police Department. “We are very appreciative of Leadership Tomorrow’s recent fundraising efforts to benefit the local law enforcement agencies’ respective K-9 programs,” said SCSO K-9 Supervisor Cpl. Albert Biggs. “The vest provided by Operation Bulletproof Bark will be issued to Apache, a 21-month-old Belgian Malinois recently assigned to K-9 Dep. Samual Swaney. K-9 Dep. Swaney has been a K-9 handler for the Sheriff’s Office since 2018.” “We would like to thank Leadership Sevier, specifically Leadership Tomorrow Team Four along with Buddy’s Bar-b-q, for all the hard work that they put in for the Operation Bulletproof Bark project,” said PFPD Chief Richard Catlett. “Our canines are a vital part of our daily operation and quickly become one of the team. These vests provide an added level of protection for them. We are very grateful to be chosen as part of the project.” Buddy’s Bar-b-q held a recent fundraiser for Operation Bulletproof Bark, with many of the K-9s in attendance to meet customers. The Leadership Tomorrow team’s goal was to raise $9,000 for the nine vests by getting sponsorships of $1,000 each. “We had six of the nine dogs spoken for within 48 hours,” Singleton said. All of the K-9s now have sponsors, and the team has raised $14,826 to date. “We have a lot more funds than we need to just provide the vests. That’s a good problem,” Singleton said. The overage will be split among the police agencies’ general K-9 budgets. “We’re very grateful that Leadership Sevier is providing vests for our K-9s,” SPD Chief Joseph Manning said of the five vests going to his agency. “They are an important part of our family and play a vital role in our law enforcement and community outreach efforts.” A presentation date will be announced on Leadership Sevier’s Facebook page. Until then, Singleton and the other group members are still working to raise additional money they can give toward general expenses for the K-9s. “Team Four of Leadership Tomorrow was overwhelmed by the level of community response to our program,” said Singleton. “It’s obvious that Sevier Countians love the K-9s and support our local law enforcement agencies. This project once again proved what a wonderful community we live in.” Donations can be mailed to Leadership Sevier, 122 Bruce St., Sevierville, TN 37862. Operation Bulletproof Bark Team Four should be noted on the memo line of the check or money order. Information is available at www.leadershipsevier.com or 865-908-3801. Contact Juli at jneil@themountainpress.com or on Twitter at @NeilWatsonJ.

Seresto flea collars linked to nearly 1,700 pet deaths

CHAMPAIGN, IL — On March 2, the Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting published an analysis of Environmental Protection Agency documents dating to 2012 that show what the center says is a link between Seresto flea collars and 1,698 pet deaths.

Reporter Jonathan Hettinger said the collars have generated more than 75,000 complaints to EPA from March 2012 through June 2020. Approximately 1,000 of the complaints involved harm to humans, including seizures, heart arrhythmia and rashes.

The EPA approved sale of the collars to consumers in March 2012.

Seresto flea collars are designed to last for eight months. They contain two pesticides, imidacloprid and flumethrin.



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Hettinger says that despite the high number of complaints and pet deaths, the EPA has not issued any public warnings.

After the article was published, EPA representatives issued a statement. It reads, in part: “….We take every incident reported seriously and review these data to see whether action is necessary … The amount of pesticide (in Seresto collars) is supposed to kill fleas and ticks but be safe for pets.”

On March 5, The Mountain Press contacted three veterinarians who practice in Sevier County to ask about Seresto collars. None responded by press time on Thursday.

The Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting is a nonprofit newsroom that specializes in agriculture-related topics. USA Today contributed to the March 2 report with its fellowship to the center for increased coverage of the agribusiness sector.

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