MENDOCINO Co., 4/24/2017 -- Three K-9 officers with the Mendocino County Sheriff's Office are challenging stereotypes about dogs that go out in public wearing matching outfits. Far from making a fashion statement, though, these animals now have some protection from bullet and stab wounds. One deputy expressed relief that his K-9 partner, like his human handler, can now go into dangerous situations with a measure of security. Here's the press release from the sheriff's department, with details about the dogs and the non-profit that funded the investment:
Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office K9’s Cam, Ruddick, & Doc Holiday have received a bullet and stab protective vests thanks to a charitable donation from non-profit organization Vested Interest in K9s, Inc. K9 Cam’s vest is sponsored by The Hausman Family Foundation and embroidered with the sentiment “This gift of protection provided by the Hausman Family Foundation”. K9 Ruddick’s vest is sponsored by Bruce Crist of Monterey, CA and embroidered with the sentiment “Justice delayed is justice denied”. K9 Doc Holiday’s vest is sponsored by Robin Doerr Russell of Sonoma, CA and embroidered with the sentiment “With love from K9 Lucie, Sonoma, CA”.
Vested Interest in K9s, Inc. is a 501c (3) charity 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. The non-profit was established in 2009 to assist law enforcement agencies with this potentially lifesaving body armor for their four-legged K9 officers. Since its inception, Vested Interest in K9s, Inc. provided over 2,400 protective vests, in 50 states, through private and corporate donations, at a cost of over 1.9 million dollars. All vests are custom made in the USA by Armor Express in Central Lake, MI.
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 eligible to participate.
The donation to provide one protective vest for a law enforcement K9 is $1,050.00. Each vest has a value between $1,795 – $2,234 and a five-year warranty, and an average weight of 4-5 lbs. There is an estimated 30,000 law enforcement K9s throughout the United States. For more information or to learn about volunteer opportunities, please call 508-824-6978. Vested Interest in K9s, Inc. provides information, lists events, and accepts tax-deductible donations of any denomination at www.vik9s.org or mailed to P.O. Box 9 East Taunton, MA 02718.
News of the donations prompted Mendocino County Sheriff's Office K9 Unit Sergeant Joey DeMarco to proclaim, "This is great! We go into some dangerous situations, like illegal marijuana grows, work with the SWAT team, track fleeing felons and conduct parole and probation searches. It's nice to know that my K9 partner "RUDDICK" also now has the same protection as me when tracking or going into a situation where there is a known armed suspect."
Mendocino County Sheriff's Office K9 handler Deputy Jonathan Martin added, "Thanks to the ballistic vest from Vested Interest in K9s, my K9 partner will be safe when he is apprehending criminals and protecting Mendocino County."
Mendocino County Sheriff's Office K9 handler Deputy Jeffrey Andrade exclaimed, "News of the donation was very heartwarming and knowing "DOC HOLIDAY" will be protected in the same way I am will help bring peace of mind when we are faced with dangerous situations."
Mendocino County Sheriff's Office Lieutenant Kirk Mason who oversees the Sheriff's Office K9 Unit stated, "The Mendocino County Sheriff's Office program has been in existence for over 20 years. During this time our canine partners have evolved from being strictly protection partners to person trackers, evidence seekers and tactical partners. As a result we have seen a marked increase in deployments and an increased awareness of our canine partners capabilities by both sworn personnel and community members. The donation of these vests will allow our canine partners to safely work side by side, with their handler, in day to day situations which tend to increase in both numbers and complexity. Our handlers will now have the peace of mind in knowing that their canine partner will be deployed in all situations, knowing that their canine partner has the highest level of affordable protection currently being offered."