RIO GRANDE — Smilla, the Village of Rio Grande Police K-9, was recently named as one of the recipients of a protective vest through a Groupon Event on behalf of Vested Interest in K-9s.
Vested Interest in K-9s, Inc., was selected by Groupon Grassroots to participate in the event, which ran from March 13 through March 20. The online $10 donation suggested interested persons purchase a Groupon (a tax deductible donation) through the secure website where all the funds were allocated to purchase ballistic vests for four-legged crime fighters who put their lives on the line for the community and their partner.
The eight-day campaign raised over $155,000, which allowed Vested Interest in K-9s, Inc., to outfit over 150 police K-9s with vests throughout the United States.
Smilla, who was purchased for the Rio Grande Police Department through community donations, was partnered with handler Sgt. Josh Davies and began working in June 2012. Smilla is a 22-month-old German Shepherd from Germany and she and Davies were trained at Pine Grove Kennels in Tuppers Plains, Ohio. She is certified through the State of Ohio and also through the National Association of Professional Canine Handlers and is a dual-purpose canine trained in narcotic detection, article searches, building searches, area searches, tracking, handler protection and criminal apprehension.
Davies said the vest will help protect Smilla in situations where she is often the first to come in contact with a suspect.
“I want to make sure my four-legged partner is safe when she is out there protecting the public,” Davies said. “I want to thank everyone who has made this possible.”
The vests purchased through Vested Interest in K-9s, Inc., an all volunteer, non-profit charity located in East Taunton, Mass., cost $950 each and have a five-year warranty.
Vested Interest in K-9s, Inc., was established in 2009 to assist law enforcement agencies with this potentially life-saving body armor for their four-legged K-9 officers.The group, which initially began working with law enforcement agencies within Massachusetts, expanded its efforts in 2011 to assist police dogs throughout the United States.
Through private and corporate sponsorship’s, Vested Interest in K-9s, Inc., provided 66 police dogs with protective vests in 2012. In September of 2012, the non-profit hit a milestone of donating $100,000 in protective vests to law enforcement agencies in the U.S. In January of 2013, a regional Groupon Grassroots campaign raised over $55,000 which allowed Vested Interest in K-9s to donate 53 K-9 vests across the country.
The organization orders the U.S. made vests exclusively from distributor Regency Police Supply in Hyannis, Mass., who also does the custom embroidery on the body armor.
New K-9 graduates as well as K-9s with expired vests are eligible to be added to the organization’s waiting list.
Vested Interest in K-9s, Inc., currently has a list of over 20 police dogs needing vests.
For more information or to learn about volunteer opportunities, please call 508-824-6978. Tax deductible donations and event listings can be found at: www.vik9s.org.