By Tamas Mondovics
The Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office has received some much needed gear to protect several of its K9 deputies.
The agency announced recently that its K9s Karlo, Zeus, Justice, Spector, and Max will receive bullet and stab protective vests thanks to a charitable donation from Vested Interest in K9s, Inc., a 501c (3) non-profit charity organization that was established in 2009 to assist law enforcement agencies with this potentially lifesaving body armor for their four-legged K9 officers.
There is an estimated 30,000 law enforcement K9s throughout the United States.
The donation to provide just one protective vest for a law-enforcement K9 is $1,050. Each vest has a value between $1,795 – $2,234, a five-year warranty, and an average weight of four to five lbs.
The program is open to dogs actively employed in the U.S. with law enforcement or related agencies who are certified and at least 20 months of age.
New K9 graduates, as well as K9s with expired vests, are all eligible to participate.
HCSO Public information Officer, Colonel Larry McKinnon explained that K9 Karlo’s vest will be embroidered with the sentiment, “In memory of K9 Jethro, Canton, OH Police Department”.
K9 Zeus, Justice, Spector, and Max’s vests will be embroidered with the sentiment, “In memory of K9 Ty, California City Police Department”.
Delivery of the body armor is expected by the end of summer.
“These dogs are not just working members of HCSO but are our family,” McKinnon said. “We owe it to them to do everything possible to protect them while they are in harm’s way. They are trained to protect our deputies and citizens of Hillsborough County.
HCSO is thankful for the generosity of Vested Interest in K9s, Inc. located in East Taunton, MA, whose mission is to provide bullet and stab protective vests and other assistance to dogs of law enforcement and related agencies throughout the United States.
Since its inception, Vested Interest in K9s, Inc. has reportedly provided over 2,400 protective vests, in 50 states, through private and corporate donations, at a cost of over $2.1 million dollars.
For more information or to learn about volunteer opportunities, please call 508-824-6978. Vested Interest in K9s, Inc. provides information and accepts tax-deductible donations of any denomination at www.vik9s.org or mailed to P.O. Box 9 East Taunton, MA 02718.