Editor’s note: The following information was supplied by the Wright County Sheriff’s Department
K9 Vader with the Wright County Sheriff’s Office has received a bullet and stab protective vest, thanks to the efforts of Vested Interest in K9s, Inc., a Massachusetts based nonprofit organization and “Beware of Trees Creations” artist, Lauren Heimbaugh.
Heimbaugh’s hand-drawn colored pencil portrait is of K9 Bushido of the Boston Police Department on the days following the tragic events at the 2013 Boston Marathon raised over $950, which covered the cost of Vader’s vest.
Heimbaugh, of Ballwin, MO organized the online event to honor the law enforcement heroes who risk their lives to guard and protect the safety of their community. This colored pencil drawing was based on a photograph taken by Rich Ryan, a Boston area photographer who witnessed part of the search for the remaining suspect following the Boston Marathon bombing.
K9 teams are trained in several areas designed to assist the Sheriff’s Office with daily law enforcement duties such as narcotic detection, building and area searching, tracking, evidence recovery, handler protection and criminal apprehension. Wright County Sheriff’s Deputy Josh Tester, is Vader’s handler.
Vested Interest in K9s, Inc. is a 501c (3) all volunteer charity located in East Taunton, MA. Whose mission is to provide bullet and stab protective vests for law enforcement dogs throughout the United States. Each vest costs $950 and has a five-year warranty. The nonprofit was established in 2009 to assist law enforcement agencies with this potentially lifesaving body armor for their four legged K9 Officers. Through private and corporate sponsorships, Vested Interest in K9s, Inc. has provided over 580 law enforcement dogs with protective vests since their inception in August of 2009. Over $550,000 in K9 vests have been donated in 38 states including Alaska and Hawaii.
The organization orders the Armor Express vests made in Central Lake, MI exclusively from distributor Regency Police Supply in Hyannis, MA., who also does the custom embroidery on the body armor. New K9 graduates as well as K9’s with expired vests are eligible to apply for the ballistic vests. The program is available to US employed, certified K9’s who are at least 19 months of age. For more information visit www.vik9s.org or call 508-824-6978.Donations by mail to Vested Interest in K9s P.O. Box 9 East Taunton, MA 02718 or via the website.