Caitlin Lewis knelt down on the grass to be on the same level with Marko. He is a 5-year-old Belgian Malinois who is also a highly trained K-9 Trooper with the Oklahoma Highway Patrol.
Lewis and her classmates in the TCC Veterinary Technology program took a break from class on Monday, October 2 to present Marko and his partner, Trooper Aaron Lockney, with the gift of a new bullet/stab resistance K-9 vest. The TCC Veterinary Technology Student Association raised more than $1,000 to purchase the custom-made vest.
“It was a huge undertaking and, at the same time, it was so rewarding,” Lewis said.
As acting president of the student association, she researched and identified Marko because he didn’t have a vest to protect him from being attacked while chasing and apprehending criminals.
“Our student association adopts a community project each year. We realize our role goes beyond taking care of the smallest members of a community to being involved in the community,” Lewis said.
It is a responsibility she takes seriously as she prepares to graduate in May 2018.
For her, involvement means being connected. That connection was evident during the meeting with Marko as she scratched his ear and he inched closer to put his head on her lap. The connection also extends to Marko’s partner, Trooper Lockney.
“In this career, you can do a lot for an animal but then knowing another person appreciates it is a really good feeling,” Lewis said. “I teared up a little to see him with the vest.”
Veterinary Technician is a high-growth occupation, which the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics forecasts to grow by 19 percent by 2024.