Four local police service dogs receive donations of K-9 ballistic vests
RIVERSIDE COUNTY, Calif., — Four police service dogs and their K-9 handlers from two local law enforcement agencies are feeling a bit safer while patrolling the streets of Riverside County after they were recently gifted with K-9 ballistic vests.
The Thursday, Dec. 16 donations, which were presented to the police service dogs and their handlers during a special ceremony at the Mission Inn Hotel Atrium, were made possible by K-9 ARMOR®; a San Francisco-based 501(c)(3) non-profit public benefit charity that provides bullet and stab-resistant vests to police service dogs throughout California.
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During Thursday’s ceremony, Riverside Police Department’s tracking bloodhound K-9 “Ruger”, and K-9 “Vigo”, a Belgian Malinois protection dog, along with Riverside County Sheriff’s K-9s “Sky” and “Sniper”, both Belgian Malinois protection dogs, were presented with new and individually fitted vests. The custom made and personally fit vests are intended to protect the service dogs from at least some of the dangerous and potentially deadly situations they face daily.
Riverside County Sheriff’s K-9 Handler Deputy Casillas looks on as his furry companion and protector, K-9 Sky, proudly sports a new bullet and stab-resistant vest donated by K-9 ARMOR. Photo courtesy of K-9 ARMOR/Steve Johnson – What is going on in Riverside County?
According to K-9 ARMOR’s co-founder, Suzanne Saunders, the vests gifted last Thursday are made of the same Kevlar® and other materials found in ballistic vests worn by officers and deputies throughout the nation and offer National Institute of Justice (NIJ) certified Level 2 ballistic and stab protection for their proud new owners.
“Each of the donated vests provide three panels of Kevlar® Level 2 spikeproof and Level 2 bulletproof resistance to protect all their vital organs; including the back and sides, a panel over the tummy, and a third panel over the heart that beats true,” Saunders told RCNS today.
Saunders went on to say that her idea for creating K-9 ARMOR came to her after she watched a 2003 television program featuring a southern California fundraiser for K-9 vests.
“I saw a special on Animal Planet about a bulletproof vest fundraiser organized by a little girl in Oceanside for her local police doggie,” the dog-lover and staunch supporter of law enforcement K-9 programs explained. The girl was inspired to raise funds for her local department after an unprotected police service dog in New Jersey was shot and killed in the line of duty.
“After just a little research, I was horrified to learn that no police dogs get vests automatically across the country. And despite the dangers these loyal servants provide, nobody was doing fundraisers and most people didn’t even know there was such a thing as K-9 vests,” she explained. “So, I found a distributor of vests and hired an attorney to form a charity and less than a year later, on July 4th, 2004, K-9 ARMOR gifted its first vest to an ATF officer’s explosives detection K-9.”
“Every K-9 handler and all cops on two legs get a Kevlar vest and those handlers depend on these dogs for their lives, so we believe every police service dog deserves the same protection as their handlers,” Saunders explained. “So, ensuring that these service dogs are as protected as their handlers are, is really protecting both the cops on two legs, as well as their four-legged partners.”
“Sadly, although these bullet and stab-resistant vests are vital and absolutely necessary to protect these brave dogs and their law enforcement partners whose lives depend on them, these vests are not typically covered by most department budgets,” she continued. “That’s where organizations like K-9 ARMOR step in to help.”
“Every K-9 Hero deserves to be protected and with everyone’s help, no K-9 will be left behind,” K-9 ARMOR’s co-founder Suzanne Saunders told RCNS after Thursday’s presentation ceremony at the Mission Inn. Photo courtesy of K-9 ARMOR/Steve Johnson – What is going on in Riverside County?
Saunders went on to explain that in preparation for the vest donations, which were facilitated by K-9 ARMOR Vice President, Riverside County Sheriff Corporal Jeff Hurd, all four of the service dogs who were presented with vests were measured for proper fit by K9 Tactical Gear in Rocklin, CA, before each vest was custom-made for them.
To date, K-9 ARMOR has donated more than 150 ballistic vests to police service dogs throughout California, with each of the donated vests costing around $1700.
Funding for the vests comes from donations made by citizens, businesses, and organizations, according to Saunders; who said one hundred percent of every donation goes directly toward the K-9 ARMOR vests provided to law enforcement agencies.
“Considering the fact that every police service dog costs around $10,000 to acquire and train, not to mention another $10,000 in other associated costs to prepare them and their handlers for duty, the cost of protecting these heroic K-9s is a true investment,” Saunders explained; adding, “But the funding for protecting these beautiful dogs has to come from somewhere.”
“That’s where the public’s help and donations from citizens, as well as local businesses and civic groups, come into play,” she continued.
Seen with Riverside County Sheriff’s K-9 Handler Deputy Sandoval, K-9 Raven, who received her own ballistic vest from K-9 ARMOR in 2019, was excited to attend Thursday’s ceremony. Photo courtesy of K-9 ARMOR/Steve Johnson – What is going on in Riverside County?
“Today was a very special day at the Mission Inn in Downtown Riverside where each dog had their time to shine,” Steve Johnson of Facebook’s What is going on in Riverside County? said after covering Thursday’s presentation ceremony for his social media page’s nearly 175,000 followers.
“These vests are above and beyond protection for working K-9 dogs to further add to their protection from criminals set out to hurt them in high-risk circumstances,” he continued.
“Every K-9 Hero deserves to be protected,” Saunders went on to say after Thursday’s event; adding, “With everyone’s help, no K-9 will be left behind.”
To learn more about K-9 ARMOR and how you can help the organization continue to provide vitally important vests to police service dogs in need of the protection the vests provide, visit them on Facebook, Instagram, or online. You can also contact K-9 ARMOR directly at (415) 265-9371 or via email at [email protected].
To see all the latest and most up to date information about Riverside County breaking news and community events, visit What is going on in Riverside County? on Facebook.
Contact the writer: [email protected]
Trevor Montgomery, 50, moved in 2017 to the Intermountain area of Shasta County from Riverside County and runs Riverside County News Source (RCNS) and Shasta County News Source (SCNS).
Additionally, he writes or has written for several other news organizations; including Riverside County based newspapers Valley News, Valley Chronicle, Anza Valley Outlook, and Hemet & San Jacinto Chronicle; the Bonsall/Fallbrook Village News in San Diego County; and Mountain Echo in Shasta County. He is also a regular contributor to Thin Blue Line TV and Law Enforcement News Network and has had his stories featured on news stations throughout the Southern California and North State regions.
Trevor spent 10 years in the U.S. Army as an Orthopedic Specialist before joining the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department in 1998. He was medically retired after losing his leg, breaking his back, and suffering both spinal cord and brain injuries in an off-duty accident. (Click here to see segment of Discovery Channel documentary of Trevor’s accident.)
During his time with the sheriff’s department, Trevor worked at several different stations; including Robert Presley Detention Center, Southwest Station in Temecula, Hemet/Valle Vista Station, Ben Clark Public Safety Training Center, and Lake Elsinore Station; along with other locations.
Trevor’s assignments included Corrections, Patrol, DUI Enforcement, Boat and Personal Water-Craft based Lake Patrol, Off-Road Vehicle Enforcement, Problem Oriented Policing Team, and Personnel/Background Investigations. He finished his career while working as a Sex Crimes and Child Abuse Investigator and was a court-designated expert in child abuse and child sex-related crimes.
Trevor has been married for more than 30 years and was a foster parent to more than 60 children over 13 years. He is now an adoptive parent and his “fluid family” includes 13 children and 18 grandchildren.
I’m over the moon thrilled to hear about this. May this contintinue so that ALL our brave and heroic K-9 Officers are as protected as it is possible to be. I am so sick of hearing about frequent K-9 stabbings and shootings. Too many of these wonderful animlals have died in the line of duty. If I had money to donate, this would be one of the very first programs I’d donate as much as I possibly could to this effort to protect each and every one of our fine K-9 officers.