Sweetwater County police dogs to be issued body armor


K9 Sergeant Allie will be fitted with a protective vest in February.

Allie, the Sweetwater County Sheriff’s Office patrol dog, will receive a bulletproof vest donated by Vested Interest in K9s in the coming weeks. (Photo provided by Sweetwater County Sheriff’s Office)

Shen Wu Tang

Wyoming Truth Special Edition

Police officers wear protective gear while on duty, so why don’t their canine companions wear protective gear too?

K9 Sergeant Allie, a 5-year-old Belgian Malinois from the Czech Republic who works for the Sweetwater County Sheriff’s Office, will soon be receiving a bulletproof vest donated by Vested Interest in K9s, Inc., the law enforcement agency announced recently.

“In 2022, 25 police dogs died in the line of duty, 11 of which were killed by gunfire,” said Jason Mower, public information director for the Sweetwater County Sheriff’s Office. “Police dogs are not just valuable law enforcement tools that we invest heavily in acquiring, training and certifying, they are also our partners and friends. Most of our police dogs retire to live with their human partners as family pets.”

Ally is trained in handler protection, tracking, obedience, arrest, narcotics detection, and area, building and item searches. He has been with the office since March 2022 and his partner and handler is Deputy Sheriff Amanda Buller.

Bulletproof and stab-proof vests for dogs They are custom-made and certified to ballistic and protective standards by the National Institute of Justice. Each protective vest comes with a five-year warranty, weighs about four to five pounds and costs about $1,800.

Sandy Markal, president of Vested Interest in K9s, said police dogs are regularly put at risk and need “the same level of protection as human police dogs.” (Photo courtesy of Vested Interest in K9s)

The Sweetwater County Sheriff’s Office expects the vests to arrive sometime in February. Mower said the office has three police dogs, including Allie, who are either already wearing or will be wearing Vested Interest in K9s vests.

“Working dogs are exposed to dangerous situations on a daily basis and it is essential that they receive the same level of protection as humans,” said Sandy Markal, president of Vested Interest in K9s. The Truth About Wyoming“The dogs are often the first ones sent out on missions.”

Since its founding in 2009, Vested Interest in K9s has distributed more than 5,400 protective vests to dogs in all 50 states, valued at approximately $6.9 million, according to Markal. The Massachusetts-based nonprofit charity strives to provide bulletproof vests and other support to police dogs and related agencies across the U.S. Markal said the nonprofit donates about 400 to 500 vests each year.

Several Wyoming agencies have also received bulletproof vests from the nonprofit, including Mills Police Department’s K9 Archer. In 2021, protective vests were donated to Sublette County Sheriff’s Office’s K9 Frankie, Cheyenne Police Department’s K9 Tyler and Wyoming Department of Corrections’ K9s Zeke and Copper.

“What’s important that a lot of people don’t realize is that these dogs often go home with their handlers and live with their families,” Marcal said. “So not only are they valued members of the community, they’re also part of the officer’s family…”

To be eligible to receive a vest, a dog must be on active duty with a U.S. police or emergency responder, be owner-certified, be at least 20 months old, and not be planning on retiring within 12 months of application. Dogs must also not be currently wearing their issued bulletproof vest.

In addition to the vests, Vested Interest in K9s has donated 2,800 K9 opioid antagonist NARCAN kits, more than $151,660 worth of K9 medical first aid kits, three Chevy Tahoes specially outfitted for K9 units (over $50,000 each), and an advanced canine medical trainer.





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