UPDATE: Graham K9 officer receives bullet protective vest sponsored by Austin family

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The Graham Police Department’s K9 Wolf has received a bullet and stab protective vest thanks to a charitable donation from a non-profit organization called Vested Interest in K9s, Inc.

The vest was sponsored by Stacy Wheetley of Austin, and embroidered with the sentiment “This gift of protection provided by Stacy and Braxton”.

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 3,500 U.S. made, custom fitted, NIJ certified protective vests in 50 states, through private and corporate donations, at a value of $6.9 million.

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.

Original story:

A Graham K9 officer is receiving the protection he needs so he can continue to serve his community.

Wolf is a 2-year-old German Shepherd that became a part of the Graham Police Department less than a year ago.

“He is actually originally from Hungary,” K9 officer handler Hailey Calcote said. “He came over to the United States through U.S. K9 and we got him through U.S. K9.”

Wolf is trained in tracking narcotics as well as helping search for lost people or people who have run from the police, something he’s very good at.

“Since me and him have been on the streets basically since November, we’ve got right around 30 grams of meth off of the streets and some marijuana and things of that nature,” Calcote said.

What Wolf does can be a very dangerous job, which is why Calcote applied for a vest from Vested Interest in K9 which is a non-profit organization in Massachusetts that provides vests for law enforcement dogs. The non-profit was started in 2009 but the idea came about 20 years ago.

“I saw a show on TV called ‘Rain’ about Vietnam war dogs and how they, unfortunately, were not allowed to come home with their handlers and being an animal lover, I reached out to some of the local law enforcement agencies in my home state in Massachusetts to find out what some of their challenges were,” founder of Vested Interest in K9 Sandy Marcal said.

Earlier this week Calcote found out they would be getting Wolf protection, something she is thankful for.

“It will help him be safe,” Calcote said. “Yes, he is not trained to bite anybody but there is still always that threat when tracking somebody or you know, doing the job we do. We have to have a bulletproof vest and just because the two-legged people have them the four-legged people should have them too.”

With this vest, Wolf can go do his job while also being able to come back home safe.

Calcote said they hope to get the vest in the next six to nine weeks. These vests are not cheap, so Calcote also wants to thank the Wheetley family of Austin who sponsored Wolf’s vest. Because of this, the vest will be embroidered with the sentiment “this gift of protection provided by Stacy and Braxton.”

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