A great service for K9s

Published 10:05 pm Monday, August 29, 2016

Maybe you would never jump out of a perfectly good airplane, but Mina, a 5-year-old Dutch shepherd seems to be just fine with the concept.

On Saturday, Mina joined skydivers at Skydive Suffolk for her eighth jump with owner James Hatch of Norfolk. The jump was part of an event Hatch, a retired Navy SEAL, organized to raise money for a nonprofit foundation he started, Spike’s K9 Fund, which provides equipment and medical care for working dogs.

During Hatch’s many deployments, several working dogs gave their lives to save Hatch and others in crises, including a hostage situation. Spike, the organization’s namesake, was the most memorable.

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When he retired from the Navy, Hatch began considering the things he could do with his free time that would engage his heart. After having been engaged in numerous crisis situations where dogs like Mina had helped saved lives �� in some cases while sacrificing their own — Hatch began thinking about the needs those dogs had that were going unmet. That’s when he founded Spike’s K9 Fund.

One of the most high-profile contributions he has secured for working dogs was the recent donation by CNN’s Anderson Cooper of ballistic vests for all of Hampton Roads’ police dogs. Hatch had the idea to solicit the donation after Norfolk police dog Krijger was shot and killed in January.

One of those vests was ceremonially donated on Saturday, and it went to Rommel, a police dog for the city of Suffolk.

Saturday’s event featured skydives, food, vendors, a dunk tank and more. But the spotlight was on Mina when she fell out of the Skydive Suffolk aircraft strapped to the harness of her owner.

The video of the jump shows Mina panting, but otherwise displaying none of the trepidation many of us might feel at the prospect of falling to the earth. In fact moments after safely landing back on the ground, Mina was unstrapped and sprinting to attack a man wearing a bite sleeve, which, for police dogs, sort of serves as the reward at the end of the workday.

Mina’s time in the air has been well spent, as Hatch has used his experience to develop a new harness for skydiving dogs that better protects them and their handlers during the jump. She appeared to be quite comfortable in the rig.

Hatch and Mina have done a great service for Hampton Roads’ police dogs.