Last week, young WYSK Allison Henry showed us all how a small, selfless gesture can make a huge impact on the world. The 10 year old from Palmer, Massachusetts decided she didn’t want presents for her birthday this year. Instead, she asked her friends and family for cash donations so she could buy a bulletproof vest for a local police dog named Ryker.
Allison first learned of Ryker, via local news reports about Holyoke restoring its police canine unit. Ryker, a Belgian Malinois, German Shepherd, Labrador Retriever mix, was the first dog in the K-9 unit. It gave her an idea.
She told The Republican newspaper, “Every year for my birthday, I pick a charity to donate to and this year I chose Ryker of the Holyoke Police Department. I am an animal lover. I don’t want animals to be hurt.”
Between family donations and a contribution from the Holyoke Rotary Club, Allison raised a total of $950. From there, her mom got in touch with Vested Interest in K-9s Inc., a nonprofit organization that provides protective vests for law enforcement dogs, to start the process of having a vest made for Ryker.
After three months in production, the special vest, which includes the inscription – Be safe. Love, Allison Henry – was complete. Allison presented it to Ryker and his handler Officer Matthew Welch last week during a special ceremony, during which Holyoke Police Chief James Neiswanger thanked her and presented her with a plaque.
The police officers noted that their dogs face the same dangers they do but often don’t have the same protection. Thanks to Allison now Ryker does.
What an awesome story. Brava Allison!
Lead Image: Allison Henry with Police Officer Matthew Welch and his canine partner Ryker. Photographer unknown.