NORWICH – Norwich Police K9 Nitro now has a bullet and stab protective vest to wear on dangerous calls.
The vest was given as a charitable donation from the nonprofit organization Vested Interest in K9s, Inc.
“Nitro and I are grateful to Vested Interest in K9s for making this donation to our department and the K9 team,” said Norwich Police K9 Officer Thomas Miller. “All officers in our department wear vests and I think it is important that the canine has the same protection that we have, as the canines are easily put in harm’s way when being deployed.”
Vested Interest in K9s, Inc. is a 501c (3) charity located in East Taunton, MA 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 1,800 protective vests, in 49 states, through private and corporate donations, at a cost of over 1.6 million dollars. All vests are custom made in the USA by Armor Express in Central Lake, MI.
The program is open to dogs actively employed in the United States 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 $1,050. Each vest has a value between $1,795 – $2,234, and a five-year warranty and an average weight of 4-5 lbs. There are 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.
According to Officer Miller, Nitro will wear the vest any time she is deployed for a weapon related incident, high risk arrest or unknown situation such as a building search.
Nitro has been Miller’s K9 partner for six years, more than three with the New Berlin Police Department, and two with the NPD.
Miller and Nitro often do school visits, hospital visits, school searches, demonstrations for children and parents, and have been guests in classrooms at Morrisville College and at Unadilla Valley School.
“It’s great having a dog that kids and adults can interact with to show the community that we aren’t there just to arrest people, we’re there to help them and be there for them,” said Miller.
All of Nitro’s food is donated by The Houndstooth Bakery and Boutique in Sidney.
Nitro has the New York State Advanced Police Dog 2 certification, as well as the nationally recognized Eastern Police Canine Association Advanced Certificate.
All of Nitro’s veterinary services are donated as well, by Dr. King of Pet Street Station Animal Hospital.
“If you think about it, she is an additional officer at almost a zero cost,” said Miller. “Training is free through the Southern Tier Canine Association, vet bills are donated, food is donated, and I donated her to the city.”
Miller added, “And with the drug problems the way they are everywhere, she is a major asset.”
“She is not only my partner, she aids in searches, apprehensions, and protections to officers,” said Miller. “This vest is greatly appreciated.”
Nitro assisted in more than a dozen arrests last year, as well as numerous raids.
Norwich Police Chief Rodney Marsh said, “We express our sincere thanks to Vested Interest for this generous donation, saving the department thousands of dollars.”