BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KERO) — In the last year, two Kern County police dogs were shot in the line of duty by suspects and one of those canines died from his injuries. After the tragedy, the Kern County Sheriff’s Office K-9s said it needed better protection for dogs on duty.
Vests are a vital piece of protection for all Kern County Sheriff’s Office K-9s. Deputies say they are bulletproof and stabproof and protect the animals' vital organs.
K-9 Drogo and his handler Daniel Garcia work together to protect the Kern County community at night. Garcia says sometimes K-9s go into very dangerous situations and the protection the new vests provide is important.
“It covers his heart, lungs, and all of his internal organs and it just gives him that chance. He’ll work to protect themselves but this vest gives him that chance to have another added layer of protection.”
Spike’s K-9 Fund, a non-profit organization that enhances the training, and care of working dogs, donated new custom-fitted and lightweight vests to each of the sheriff’s office's K-9’s to replace the old ballistic vests.
“It's been a huge blessing for us, for the k9 unit," says Garcia. "We’ve received five of these vests. They range in price from around $3,500 to $5,000.”
Garcia says it’s the protection the old ballistic vests did not provide.
“The dogs are such a special tool for us because of their agility. They are able to move quickly and the vests that we used to have weren’t allowing them to do that and it wasn’t a vest that we could have the dogs wear all day long. This vest, we put it on at the start of our shift and they wear it throughout the entirety.”
Garcia says the vest has a shelf life to protect Drogo from the threat of gunfire and stabbing for about five years.
“When we are asking these dogs to do these tasks, now we can rest a little more better and feel a little more comfortable while we’re on the scene knowing that the dogs are, they have that added layer of protection, the same layer of protection that we have.”