Winston, a K9 for the Routt County Sheriff’s Office, to receive donated body armor
Winston, the Routt County Sheriff’s Office K9, will soon receive a bullet and stab protective vest thanks to a charitable donation from Vested Interest in K9s, Inc., a nonprofit organization.
Winston’s vest will be embroidered with the sentiment “Gifted by NationalPolice.org,” and is sponsored by the National Police Association. The vest is expected to arrive within eight to 10 weeks.
“I think it’d be very important for him to have the same protection that other law enforcement officers have,” said Sheriff’s deputy Aaron Clock, who has been Winston’s handler for a little over a year.
Clock said Winston has a ton of energy and frequently interacts with kids at local schools.
“You should see him in the morning,” Clock said. “He knows what time to get to work.”
Winston, a black lab, is classified as a single-purpose dog who sniffs for narcotics and human scents. The human scents Winston pursues are mostly limited to missing persons, as he is not trained to attack upon finding individuals.
“It could be for fugitives, but we would probably only do fugitives that wouldn’t pose a great risk to him or to me,” Clock said.
According to data from the Officer Down Memorial Page, 21 law enforcement K9s died in the line of duty in 2021 nationwide, five of which died from gunfire. This year, 22 K9s have died in the line of duty, including 10 from gunfire.
The body armor will replace the tracking vest Winston wears, which wraps around his body without putting pressure on his throat. The new bullet and stab protective vest will offer similar functionality such as having handles so Clock can be lift and carry Winston, who he considers more than a partner.
“Best friends is what I would call it,” Clock said describing his relationship with Winston, who celebrated his fourth birthday on Tuesday, Oct. 25. “It’s nice to have him in the vehicle with me every day.”
Established in 2009, Vested Interest in K9s, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) charity that provides bullet and stab protective vests and other assistance to dogs of law enforcement and related agencies throughout the United States.
The vest is made in the U.S., custom fitted, and certified by the National Institute of Justice. Each vest has a value between $1,744 to $2,283, weighs an average of 4-5 lbs., and comes with a five-year warranty.
So far, Vested Interest in K9s, Inc. has provided over 4,789 vests valued at $6.9 million to K9s across all 50 states through private and corporate donations.
The program is available to dogs in the U.S. who are at least 20 months old and actively employed and certified with law enforcement or related agencies. Law enforcement K9s with expired vests are also eligible to receive donations.
A single donation of $960 will sponsor one vest, but Vested Interest in K9s, Inc. accepts tax-deductible contributions in any amount.
Those seeking more information, or wanting to learn about volunteer opportunities can call 508-824-6978, or visit http://www.vik9s.org.
To reach Spencer Powell, call 970-871-4229 or email him at spowell@SteamboatPilot.com
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