Charitable donation to provide new body armor for Garfield County Sheriff’s Office K9 deputies
In the coming weeks, four K9 deputies with the Garfield County Sheriff’s Office will be able to wear new bullet and stab protective vests to work.
The law enforcement office’s three German shepherds — Aren, Messi and Rex — as well as its German shorthaired pointer, Bull, will receive the potentially lifesaving body armor thanks to a charitable donation from the nonprofit organization Vested Interest in K9s, Inc. located in East Taunton, Massachusetts.
According to a news release, since its inception in 2009, the nonprofit organization has been able to provide protective vests to K9s in all 50 states, thanks to $6.9 million worth of donations from private and corporate entities.
Each vest weighs four or five pounds and has a value of between $1,700 and $2,300.
The new K9 protective vests were sponsored by two individuals in Galesburg, Ill. and will be embroidered with the message, “Honoring those who served and sacrificed.”
From cocaine and methamphetamine drug busts to locating armed and dangerous suspects, K9s with the Garfield County Sheriff’s office routinely find themselves in life or death situations.
Garfield County Sheriff Lou Vallario recalled one high-speed pursuit near Rifle in which the suspects ultimately ditched their vehicle and fled on foot.
“Because of the conditions, it was night and in the brush, we turned the dogs on them,” Vallario said. “The dogs were able to find them and convince them to give themselves up.”
For the K9s, it was just another night at the office.
“They’re used quite often between our agency and assisting other agencies,” Vallario said. “Oftentimes, they’re out in front of a danger quite honestly.”
According to Garfield County Sheriff’s Office Patrol Commander Kurt Conrad, K9s generally begin their law enforcement career at around the age of two, and in some cases serve for eight years.
“These aren’t your normal dogs,” Conrad said. “They are truly working animals and they love it.”
Aren, Bull, Messi and Rex actually live with their respective handlers when not on duty, and as a result become a part of those deputies’ families.
According to a news release, an estimated 30,000 K9s assist law enforcement agencies throughout the United States.
“It’s like having a friend in the car all the time,” Conrad said of the K9s. “The companionship that comes with it…it’s a different bond.”
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