MURRIETA: Three Murrieta Police K-9s to receive new, donated body armor

Three Murrieta Police Department K-9s will soon be receiving brand new body armor thanks to a charitable donation from the nonprofit organization, ‘Vested Interest in K-9s, Incorporated.” The three vests have a combined value of about $6,000.

In an effort to better protect those brave dogs who serve without hesitation or question, Vested Interest in K-9s, Inc. announced that with donor’s help, they would be presenting three Murrieta Police Department service dogs with custom-made, bullet and stab resistant vests.

Murrieta Police K-9s “Kazan,” “Ranger” and “Rocky” will be receiving their brand new body armor within the next eight to 10 weeks, according to Murrieta police officials who announced the donations on social media.

K-9 Rocky’s vest was sponsored by California resident Roseann Kennedy. It will be embroidered with the sentiment “Be safe, from Roseann Kennedy and D.O.G.”

K9 Ranger’s and K9 Kazan’s vests were sponsored by an anonymous donor and will be embroidered with the sentiment “Born to love – Trained to serve – Loyal Always.”

Almost always on the front line

Law enforcement K9s are almost always on the front line of the most dangerous calls and are often the first physical contact between law enforcement officials and combative, non-compliant or uncooperative subjects. Sometimes those people are armed with weapons and there have been countless recent cases where police service dogs were injured or killed in the line of duty.

Such was the recent case that devastated an entire community in January 2015, when a Hemet/San Jacinto based sheriff’s K9 was fatally shot while trying to apprehend a man with a felony, firearms-related warrant.

The suspect, who was later identified as 36-year-old, Todd Allen Hodge, of Hemet, had hidden under a residence in the 40200 block of Clark Drive in Hemet, while being chased by officials who had recognized him and knew he had a warrant.

During the incident, which led to a nine-hour standoff, K9 Sultan was following his nose, when he caught a scent that made him dart under the home where Hodge was hiding. Although nobody knows exactly what happened next, the police service dog was fatally shot in the neck while under the house.

Despite being mortally wounded, Sultan, a 3-year-old Belgian Malinois-German shepherd mix who had been in service for about one year, managed to get back out from under the house to his handler, but the service dog was covered in blood and bleeding profusely from the neck.

K9 Handler Deputy Wallace rushed his stricken partner to a nearby veterinary hospital; however when he arrived he realized Sultan had already passed.

“Jan. 21 was one of the worst days of my life,” Wallace said in an interview shortly after his K9 partner’s death.

At the end of the lengthy standoff Hodge was shot and killed after he reportedly came out from underneath the house while still armed with the handgun he allegedly used to kill Sultan.

Sultan was the first police service dog killed in the line of duty in the 32 year history of the sheriff’s K9 program.

Vested Interest in K9s, Inc.

Established in 2009, Vested Interest in K9s, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) charity located in East Taunton, MA.

The nonprofit’s goal is to help law enforcement agencies throughout the nation to obtain the potentially lifesaving body armor for their four-legged, K9 partners.

An example of the knife and bullet resistant body armor that Murrieta Police K-9's "Ranger," "Rocky" and "Kazan" will soon be receiving from non-profit "Vested Interest in K9s, Incorporated."
An example of the knife and bullet resistant body armor that Murrieta Police K-9’s “Ranger,” “Rocky” and “Kazan” will soon be receiving from non-profit “Vested Interest in K9s, Incorporated.”

Since their inception, Vested Interest in K9s, Inc. has provided over 2,400 protective vests to law enforcement agencies in all 50 states, at a cost of nearly $2 million dollars.

They are able to provide the vests to law enforcement agencies with help from private and corporate donations. All the vests are custom made to each dog’s individual specifications by Armor Express in Central Lake, Michigan.

The program is open to all police service dogs that are actively employed with law enforcement or related agencies within the United States. The dogs must be certified and have been performing law enforcement related duties for at least 20 months.

Officials explained that the full donation needed to provide one protective vest for a law enforcement police service dog is $1,050; however, all donations are accepted and appreciated. All donations are tax-deductible.

Each vest, which weigh between 4 to 5 pounds, have an actual value ranging between $1,795 and $2,234, and they come with a five-year warranty.

In spite of the thousands of vests that Vested Interest in K9s Inc. have provided to law enforcement agencies nationwide, it is estimated that there are more than 30,000 law enforcement K9s throughout the United States.

For more information or to learn about volunteer opportunities with Vested Interest in K9s, Inc., call (508) 824-6978.They can also be contacted at www.vik9s.org or mailed at P.O. Box 9 East Taunton, MA 02718.

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