New K-9 “Buddies” Provide Safety Equipment to SOIU Dogs

Man and woman standing behind a black bag with words "Buddy Bag" on it in red letters
Wednesday, October 30, 2019 - 1:45pm

It doesn’t matter whether one walks on two legs or four in the Adult Correction and Juvenile Justice’s Special Operations and Intelligence Unit (SOIU); all beings need the most up-to-date protective safety equipment. 

Thanks to twin Apex brothers, some of the SOIU K-9s will have just that. Eight-year-olds Gavin and Evan Shrader create painted tiles and sell them as coasters and plates to raise money to provide law enforcement dogs with protective equipment. Some of the monies raised from selling the tiles have been donated to the Never Forget 911 Foundation, a nonprofit organization that, among other things, provides protective equipment to law enforcement dogs through its Back the K9 program.

The boys found out about the SOIU dogs and assisted in providing four Buddy Bags (trauma kits and body armor) through the foundation. The Buddy Bags were presented to SOIU Director Tony Taylor by the Shrader family and Christine Weber Livingston, who represented the foundation.

“We really appreciate the assistance these young men have provided to our K-9s,” Taylor said. “It means a lot to us. Our K-9s are a very important part of what we do.”

The Shraders, including their mother, Sharon, had an opportunity to not only visit the SOIU office on Yonkers Road in Raleigh, but meet the dogs and their handlers. Kelly Tyner, Robert Brewington and Mike Norris brought the large German Shepherds and Belgian Malinois out of their trucks to demonstrate the various skills used on the job.

In between commands like “Heel!” and encouraging rubs and pats, the dogs allowed the boys to see special operations K-9s in action for the first time. The dogs did everything they could to please their handlers and demonstrated everything from simple commands to complicated searching techniques such as finding a penny (and cover it as if it were a weapon with its chin) on the concrete.

The K-9s found pieces of metal hidden in a pile of leaves after the boys rubbed them with their hands. There was also a demonstration of how a K-9 can subdue an offender as the handler used a heavy arm sleeve and the dog latched onto it with its incredibly strong jaws.

“That dog’s got some grip,” Norris said as he shook and rubbed his arm after the sleeve was pulled off by the K-9.

The boys were as impressed with what they saw as much as the SOIU handlers were impressed with the generosity and caring of the boys for their four-legged partners.

“We had a dog when we were young and it died when I was three,” Gavin Shrader said. “We’ve always loved dogs and wanted to do something to help.”

For information regarding the Never Forget 911 Foundation and assisting K-9s, email Norris at

Jerry Higgins