The Smithville Police Department has been awarded a ballistic vest for K9 "Leo" thanks to a non profit organization, Vested Interest in K9s, Inc.
A total of $16,595.00 has been donated to the charity from the “K9 Kota Campaign” to provide vests for seventeen K9s in Tennessee, Kentucky, Ohio, New Jersey, California and Indiana.
The “K9 Kota Campaign” held an online event selling over 1,350 tee shirts for the cause.
K9 Kota is a law enforcement dog with the Winchester Police Department in Virginia that sustained a work related injury on January 3, 2014. The dog fell through an attic floor onto a hardwood floor while detaining a suspect. Although the injury was severe to his right front leg, Kota climbed back up the flight of stairs to continue the fight. After months of surgery and physical therapy his return to police work is still unknown.
Locally, K9 Officer James Cornelius and K9 Leo of the Smithville Police Department have been working together for over three years. Officer Cornelius has been in law enforcement for four years. K9 Leo is a five year old Dutch Shepherd that has been working for four years. K9 Leo had one handler prior to Officer Cornelius. K9 Leo and Officer Cornelius were paired in March of 2011 and completed 120 hours of initial training with Dean Hunter of Canine Command. They continue to attend monthly maintenance training with Hunter and recertify yearly with the USPCA.
Vested Interest in K9s, Inc. is a 501c (3) charity located in East Taunton, Massachusetts 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. Each vest costs $950.00 and has a 5 year warranty. The nonprofit was established in 2009 to assist law enforcement agencies with this potentially life saving body armor for their four legged K9 Officers. Through private and corporate sponsorships, Vested Interest in K9s, Inc. has provided over 930 law enforcement dogs in 39 states with protective vests since 2009 at a cost of $880,000.
The organization orders the U.S. made vests exclusively from distributor Regency Police Supply in Hyannis, Massachusetts, who also does the custom embroidery on the body armor. Vests are manufactured by Armor Express in Central Lake, Michigan.
New K9 graduates as well as K9's with expired vests are eligible to participate. The program is open to law enforcement dogs who are US employed, certified and at least 19 months of age.
Vested Interest in K9s, Inc. was named as a charity partner in March of 2014 in a nation wide Groupon Campaign which raised over $335,000 in 19 days. The non profit will be providing over 350 law enforcement dogs nationwide with the protective body armor in memory of K9 Rocco of the Pittsburgh Police Department who sacrificed his life in the line of duty in January of 2014. All vests will be embroidered with the sentiment, "In Memory of K9 Rocco, Pittsburgh Police Department".
For more information or to learn about volunteer opportunities, please call 508-824-6978. Tax deductible donations are accepted via mail to: Vested Interest in K9s, Inc. P.O. Box 9 East Taunton, MA 02718 or via the website: www.vik9s.org.