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Larimer County Sheriff’s Office K9, Tyr, to get donation of body armor

August 30, 2019 | Local News

By Amber McIver-Traywick

The Surveyor

Larimer County Sheriff’s Office (LCSO) K9, Tyr, will receive a bullet- and stab-protective vest thanks to a charitable donation from non-profit organization Vested Interest in K9s, Inc. K9 Tyr’s vest is sponsored by Cindy and Jerry Runta of Fort Collins, Colo., and will be embroidered with the sentiment, “This gift of protection provided by Cindy and Jerry Runta.” Delivery is expected within eight to 10 weeks.

Photo courtesy of Larimer County Sheriff’s Office
Deputy Mitch McGuinnis stands with his partner K9 Tyr a Belgian Malinois. Tyr received a bullet and stab protective vest from a charitable donation through the nonprofit organization Vested Interest.

The dogs are considered a supplement to the patrol like any other partner would be and a great asset to the LCSO. According to the LCSO website, it is estimated each K9 team can save between 800 and 1,000 manhours per year. K9 teams respond to violent calls, building searches related to alarms or reports of forced entry, fleeing subjects, searches for missing, lost or endangered children or persons, and narcotic calls. The dogs are often used to locate drugs during traffic stops.

There are eight dog-handler teams with LCSO and they are considered a specialized unit. The focus of the K9 Unit is to reduce the number of man hours spent on calls and increase the safety of officers involved in calls. The K9 Unit has six dogs assigned to the Patrol Division, certified in patrol function and narcotic detection, and two dogs assigned to the Jail Division, certified in narcotic detection.

Every officer wants to ensure their partner is safe and protected, whether human or animal, and the vests help make sure that’s the case. Corporal Jackie Knudsen, who is the handler for K9 Negan, a Germans shepherd/Belgian Malinois mix, said in a video posted on the LCSO website speaking of her former K9 partner Grendel, who retired after nine years of service and sadly passed away in July, “He’s my partner, because every time I step out of my truck to just talk to somebody or do a traffic stop or respond to a call, whenever I step out of that truck he’s always standing up and he’s watching everything I do…he’s got my back.”

Handlers train a minimum of 20 hours a month as a group, in addition to daily training each dog-handler team conducts. “We train our dogs for officer safety, so if we are there and there is a fight the dogs are there to help us out and apprehend the suspects and those involved in violent crimes,” Cpl. Knudsen said, but continued by saying they are also trained to be neutral in neutral environments, like when they visit schools or are simply at home or in public.

Vested Interest in K9s, Inc. is a 501c (3) charity located in East Taunton, Mass., whose mission is to provide bullet- and stab-protective vests and other assistance to dogs of law enforcement and related agencies throughout the United States. The non-profit was established in 2009 to assist law enforcement agencies with this potentially lifesaving body armor for their four-legged K9 officers. Since its inception, Vested Interest in K9s, Inc. provided over 3,500 protective vests, in 50 states, through private and corporate donations, at a value of $5.7 million dollars. 

The program is open to dogs actively employed in the U.S. with law enforcement or related agencies who are certified and at least 20 months of age. New K9 graduates, as well as K9s with expired vests, are eligible to participate.

The donation to provide one protective vest for a law enforcement K9 is $950. Each vest has a value between $1,744 – $2,283 and a five-year warranty, and an average weight of 4-5 lbs. There is an estimated 30,000 law enforcement K9s throughout the United States. For more information or to learn about volunteer opportunities, please call 508-824-6978. Vested Interest in K9s, Inc. provides information, lists events, and accepts tax-deductible donations of any denomination at www.vik9s.org or mailed to P.O. Box 9 East Taunton, MA 02718.

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