AMERICUS — The Americus Police Department’s newly organized K-9 unit received a bullet and stab protective vest for its K-9 officer “Von” from the nonprofit organization Vested Interest in K9s Inc. of East Taunton, Mass., recently.

APD Chief Mark Scott said he was alerted to the organization when the department’s K-9 unit was formed.

“I was sent a link to the organization (Vested Interest), so I reached out to them,” Scott said. “”We filled out an application, told them we were just starting our unit and didn’t have funding for body armor, and they contacted us and told us we’d been selected to receive one of the vests.

“It’s a good thing for our unit.”

Vested Interest is a 501(c)(3) organization whose mission is to provide bullet and stab protective vests and other assistance to law enforcement dogs and animals with other agencies throughout the United States. The nonprofit was established in 2009 to assist agencies with procuring the potentially life-saving equipment.

Since its inception, Vested Interest in K9s has provided more than 3,400 protective vests in all 50 states through private and corporate donations. Value of the equipment is $5.7 million.

The agency provides the armor for dogs actively employed in the U.S. with law enforcement or related agencies who are certified and at least 20 months of age.

Donations to provide one protective vest for a K-9 is $950. Each vest is valued at between $1,744 and $2,283. Each weighs 4 to 5 pounds and has a five-year warranty.

For additional information about Vested Interest in K9s, call (505) 824-6978. The company accepts tax-deductible donations at www.viK-9s.org or via mail at P.O. Box 9, East Taunton, MA 02718.

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