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Georgia Southern University Police Department’s K-9 Bear to get donation of body armor

Bear poses for a photo in front of a Georgia Southern Police Department K-9 vehicle.

Georgia Southern University Police Department’s K-9, “Bear,” will receive a bullet and stab protective vest thanks to a charitable donation from non-profit organization Vested Interest in K9s, Inc. Bear’s vest is sponsored by Optima Energy, Inc. and will be embroidered with the sentiment “This gift of protection provided by Optima Energy.” Delivery is expected within eight to ten weeks.

K-9 Unit officer Philip Garza said the new vest will provide a variety of advantages to the department.

“The vest will enable us to be better prepared for worst case scenarios such as post-blast as well as an active shooter incident,” Garza said. “The most important benefit of the vest for K-9 Bear is it will offer ballistic protection to him just as my ballistic vest protects me. It increases my chances of survival as will his.”

Garza said the vest will make him feel better when taking Bear out on a call.

“At the end of the day, K-9 Bear is a sworn officer with Georgia Southern University Police, but most importantly, he is my partner, and the added protection gives me great peace of mind,” he said.

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 3,000 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 $950.00. 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.

Georgia Southern University, a public Carnegie Doctoral/Research institution founded in 1906, offers 141 degree programs serving more than 27,000 students through nine colleges on three campuses in Statesboro, Savannah, Hinesville and online instruction. A leader in higher education in southeast Georgia, the University provides a diverse student population with expert faculty, world-class scholarship and hands-on learning opportunities. Georgia Southern creates lifelong learners who serve as responsible scholars, leaders and stewards in their communities. Visit GeorgiaSouthern.edu.

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