By Lt. Eduardo Mazariegos, AA/Public Information Officer
Salinas Valley State Prison

CDCR K-9s Ozzy and Oscar have received bullet-and-stab protective vests thanks to a charitable donation from non-profit organization Vested Interest in K9s, Inc.

Oscar sports his new protective vest.

Oscar sports his new protective vest.

The vests were sponsored by Joanne and Bruce Crist, Monterey residents, and are embroidered with the sentiments “To all the pups I’ve loved before” and “For all the pups who gave their all”.

Officer S. Newcomb and Oscar have been working together since June 2015 at Salinas Valley State Prison (SVSP). Oscar is a 3-year-old black Labrador male, certified in detection of narcotics.

Officer T. Flores and Ozzy have been working together since January 2015. Ozzy is a 2-year-old black Labrador male, who is also certified in detection of narcotics.

As part of the Investigative Services Unit, both officers and their service dogs actively search for illegal narcotics throughout the institution. Not limited to SVSP, the team provides outside assistance to various other local law enforcement agencies with search warrants as well as parole and probation searches. Both officers are grateful their partners now have this extra layer of protection as they serve the institution and community.

Vested Interest in K9s, Inc., is a 501c(3) charity located in East Taunton, Massachusetts, whose mission is to provide bullet and stab protective vests and other assistance to dogs of law enforcement and related agencies throughout the U.S. The non-profit was established in 2009 to assist law enforcement agencies with this potentially lifesaving body armor for their four-legged K-9 officers. Since its inception, Vested Interest in K9s, Inc., has provided over 1,700 protective vests, in 49 states, through private and corporate donations, at a cost of over $1.6 million. All vests are custom made in the U.S.A. by Armor Express in Central Lake, Michigan.

Ozzy sports his new protective vest.

Ozzy sports his new protective vest.

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 K-9 graduates, as well as K-9s with expired vests, are eligible to participate.

The donation to provide one protective vest for a law enforcement K-9 is $1,050. Each vest has a value between $1,795 to $2,234, and a five-year warranty and an average weight of 4-5 lbs. There are an estimated 30,000 law enforcement K-9s throughout the United States. For more information or to learn about volunteer opportunities, 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.