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k9guard girlsBy BERNIE BELLAN
A while back I received an interesting email from someone who identified herself as Sara Gardner. In the course of corresponding with Sara I learned that she is a former Winnipegger -

the daughter of Ashley Leibl and Heather Sturrey (granddaughter of Lil Sturrey - who still subscribes to our paper even after having moved to Vancouver years ago; and stepdaughter of Nona Leibl).
Along with her halfsister Alex Blumberg (daughter of Heather Sturrey and Tom Blumberg), Sara and Alex are now budding entrepreneurs. Their company produces and markets a product called “thek9guard”.
Sara referred me to a video link, http://bc.ctvnews.ca/video?clipId=1035903 that explains what the product is all about. Here is an excerpt from the website for k9guard (www.thek9guard.com):
Generally, most people agree that the idea that large and small dogs cannot play well together is untrue. Big dogs and small dogs can play together on a regular basis, and big dogs are not destined to become predatory to little dogs. Although there are some large dogs that do not appreciate certain behaviours from smaller dogs, the theory of ‘predatory drift’ has been challenged in recent years.
The main problem when small and large dogs play together is that a small dog is much more likely to be seriously hurt if a large dog plays too roughly with the small dog, or acts aggressively towards it and bites/attacks it than a large dog would.
Our best defense is the ability of dog owners to recognize inappropriate or rude interactions between dogs, and ability of the humans to call their dogs away immediately (not after 5 calls). Too often at dog parks we see people completely ignoring their dogs, either on their phones otherwise pre-occupied. They often miss important signals being given off by their dog or other dogs in the environment, which can easily lead to a fight and potential injury.
K9 guard“The k9guard jacket also protects dogs against predators such as coyotes, raccoons and birds of prey.”

 I was sufficiently intrigued about this product, after having watched the video, that I asked Sara to tell me a little bit more about herself and how she came to develop this particular product.
Sara wrote back that she is a graduate of Joseph Wolinsky Collegiate, having been a member of the first graduating class in 1998 that attended the Gray Academy. After having acquired her nursing degree here, she left Winnipeg in 2006 and later acquired her Master’s in nursing in BC.
Now the director of resident services at a Vancouver nursing home, Sara, along with sister Alex (who attended Brock Corydon School, the University of Winnipeg Collegiate and the University of Manitoba before also moving to Vancouver), along with a third partner, Allison Ribeaux, started making the k9guard a couple of years ago in Delta, BC.
Sara explains how she and her sister were motivated to create their dog jackets: “We run a dog rescue in Manitoba and BC so we have witnessed many attacks prompting the invention of the jackets.”

I wondered though how prevalent the problem of dogs being attacked by other dogs really is. Sara replied, “We just don’t hear about the day to day non fatal attacks and sadly the ones that make headlines are always pit bull attacks because media likes to use pit bulls in the news.”
A quick scan of stories on the Internet about dog attacks in the Winnipeg area confirms Sara’s assertion that we only hear about the fatal attacks. Yet, as the owner of a small dog myself, I know the fear that can suddenly develop when a larger dog that appears unfriendly happens to be come close by. Further, my wife and I have always avoided dog parks precisely because of the concern we’ve had about another dog – even it’s just engaging in aggressive play, biting our little dog.
Sara’s website says: “If you are worried about bringing your small or larger dog to public areas like dog parks or beaches where they will encounter other off leash dogs, please visit our website for more information on our K9 Guard Protective Dog jackets. These jackets are bite proof and can mitigate the risk of your dog being injured when out and about with you!”
The website describes how the jackets are made;
“Our jackets are made of high quality, durable Polyester with thermoplastic polyurethane – waterproof membrane (DINTEX). The three KEVLAR® inserts, located in the neck piece and body of the jacket, provide bite protection to help mitigate risk of injury when your dog is out on a walk, hike or at a dog park.”
As Sara noted in one of her emails, she and Alex are heavily involved in animal rescue and adoption. The organization to which Sara and Alex belong is called “CAARE” (Companion Animal Advocacy & Rescue Effort).
The CAARE website gives the following information:
“CAARE is a registered nonprofit organization dedicated to Humane Education and the prevention of pet overpopulation. We are avid rescuers and are committed to changing the way people view companion animals and their responsibility to them.
“Established in 2014, we have worked tirelessly to rehome dogs of all sizes and ages, most of them scheduled to be put down in shelters or destroyed in rural communities in Canada.”
In an email Sara elaborated on where the dogs come from: “We mostly rescue them from reserves in Manitoba and adopt them out in MB and BC. “
If you are possibly interested in adopting a dog from CAARE, you can find out more on the organization’s website: www.caarerescue.com

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