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Local Veterinarian Aims to Protect K-9 Police Dogs

Milwaukee Brewers Mat Gamel and Cody Ransom will be in attendance as special guests of MECA owner Dr. Marla Lichtenberger at the MECA Vest a K-9 Fest on July 14.

On Saturday, July 14, the Milwaukee Emergency Center for Animals (MECA) will host its first "MECA Vest a K-9 Fest" to raise awareness and much needed funds to vest Wisconsin’s police dogs with bullet and stab-proof vests.

Milwaukee Brewers Mat Gamel and Cody Ransom will be in attendance as special guests of MECA owner Dr. Marla Lichtenberger, whom Patch caught up with for this week's Names in the News.

Greenfield Patch: Tell Greenfield Patch users a little bit about MECA and its Greenfield history.

ML: With such an enormous need for a 24/7, 365 days a year, state-of-the-art animal ER facility, I established The Milwaukee Emergency Center for Animals in June of 2009. The Milwaukee Emergency Center for Animals and Specialty Services, located in Greenfield, is a state-of-the-art facility focusing on general and criticaveterinary care and offers a surgical center, where dogs, cats, reptiles, exotic pets and other small animals can be treated 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Patch: In a nutshell, why are you hosting the K-9 vest event to be held at the hospital July 14? In other words, what do you hope the event succeeds in doing?

ML: My love for animals and my involvement in treating many police K-9s led me to launch my foundation called MECA Wisconsin Police Canine Vest Foundation, Inc. The foundation’s mission is to protect every police dog in the state of Wisconsin by providing them with bullet resistant and stab proof vests. In addition MECA Wisconsin Police Canine Vest Foundation will also assist Wisconsin Police K-9 Units in purchasing the finest dogs and equipment needed to protect and serve the public. The MECA Vest A K-9 Fest is an event attending to raise much needed awareness and funds for this specific cause.

Patch: Why did you decide to get involved in this type of project, to provide all police K-9s with protective vests?

ML: Police dogs are important and valuable partners to our law enforcement and play vital roles in fighting crime in our communities by saving the lives of citizens, as well as their human police officers. Police dogs are oftentimes sent into harm’s way by being dispatched to investigate hazardous or risky situations before their human partners or to confront and apprehend dangerous suspects. Some of these dogs are shot, stabbed or killed while protecting their partners and the communities in which they serve. When these dogs are killed in the line of duty, the result is a significant loss of vital police resources, as well as a substantial hardship for their handlers and the communities that rely upon them for protection. I wanted to help protect these magnificent animals.

Patch: Give us some of the highlights of the event itself? What's there to do for kids, families or anyone who will be in attendance?

ML: It’s going to be a great event! Kids will be able to meet some of their favorite Brewers like Mat Gamel and Cody Ransom. Admirals mascot Roscoe will be at the event. We’ll have photo opportunities for kids and families with police and their K-9 partners. There will be a bounce house for kids to play in, we’ll feature police demonstrations, agility demonstrations, music and entertainment by eight-time WAMI Award winner Ronnie Nyles, raffles, a silent auction and more!

Patch: What is the one thing -- just one -- that you are looking forward to the most when it comes to the event, and why?

ML: Well I’m very excited about the Brewers coming, but the one thing I am looking forward to the most is watching the police demonstrations. I think it’s just amazing to see how intelligent and powerful these police dogs are. And it goes without saying, I’ll be very pleased to see lots of people attending this event who want to help us help our police K-9s.

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