ST. GEORGE — Max, Cedar City Police Department’s four-legged law enforcement agent, is now outfitted with custom body armor thanks to a sponsor who funded the purchase as a tribute to her father.
The vest, valued at more than $2,300, was purchased by Leeds resident Joanna Boyd as part of a sponsorship program through Vested Interest in K-9s, Inc., a nonprofit organization based out of East Taunton, Massachusetts.
Boyd told police she wanted to provide the vest to Max as a tribute to her father, who was an officer in Massachusetts. The purchase of the ballistic vest was a way to honor him for his service.
The K-9’s new body armor is bullet and stab-proof, which protects the animal while he is on-duty.
The vest is also adorned with a special message chosen by Boyd embroidered on the chest area, reading, “Born to Love – Trained to Serve – Loyal Always.”
The coordinated effort to outfit the animal began in May when Boyd reached out to the Cedar City Police Department asking if any of their K-9’s needed a bullet-proof vest, Cedar City Police Sgt. Clint Pollock told St. George News.
“We told her we actually had one K-9 that didn’t have a vest,” he said.
Boyd offered to purchase a vest for the animal and sent Pollock the information from Vested Interest, which works with ballistic vest manufacturers to donate vests to K-9’s.
Over the course of the next few months, the department worked with the east coast company to order the vest, and measurements of the dog were taken by Corporal Kirk Lovell, the dog’s handler.
“The vests are custom-made to fit that particular dog,” Pollock said. “So Max’s measurements were taken and that information was sent to the company.”
Five months later, the 5-pound vest arrived and is now part of Max’s standard police equipment, which is important, Polluck said, since the 3-year-old Belgian Malinois is a dual purpose police K-9 — certified in both patrol and narcotics.
Max became a member of the Cedar City Police Department two years ago and started his formal training in January of last year. As an “extremely energetic dog,” he has a love for Kongs, which are rubber toys with a hollow center that can be stuffed with food, chew toys and bite sleeves.
The furry law enforcement agent “loves being part of the Cedar City Police K-9 team and is excited every day he gets to put his skills to work,” Pollock posted on the department’s social media.
When Max isn’t fighting crime, “he enjoys long runs with his handler and being lazy at home,” Pollock said.
Vested Interest in K-9s
Established in 2009, Vested Interest in K-9s assists law enforcement agencies by providing bullet and stab protective vests to K-9s throughout the United States. They work with ballistic vest manufacturers to provide the vests through sponsorship programs and donations.
Since its inception, the nonprofit has provided nearly $7 million worth of equipment to furry, four-legged officers, including more than 3,600 custom-fitted, U.S. made, National Institute of Justice certified, protective ballistic vests.
Vested Interest has also provided more than 800 opioid K-9 reversal NARCAN Kits, garnered support to pay more than $80,000 of K-9 medical insurance premiums through the “K-9 Heroes” program and provided $25,000 in funding for K-9 first aid kits
As part of the sponsorship program, each protective vest, valued between $1,700-$2,300, can be purchased for a K-9 for $950.
The program is open to certified dogs actively working in the U.S. with law enforcement or related agencies, and are at least 20 months of age. New K-9 graduates are eligible to apply, as well as any police dog with an expired vest.
For more information or to learn about volunteer opportunities, call 508-824-6978. Vested Interest in K-9s, Inc. provides information, event schedules and sponsorship information.
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