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Jefferson County K9s get new, better fitting protective vests

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HILLSBORO, MO (KTVI) - It's a crime-fighting fashion accessory for police pooches.

‘'What we were doing is trading off vest from older dogs to use for our newer dogs,” says Rich Beattie, Deputy Sheriff Jefferson County Sheriff's Department. ‘'Well, like humans, these vests have to fit a particular type of size. Dogs are different sizes.”

It's hard to be the best when your vest is ill fitting. The Jefferson County Sheriff's Department had been mixing and matching older ballistic vests for their seven K-9 officers. But that wasn't always easy or even the right protection for the dogs helping patrol about 660 square miles.

‘'We could be in the middle of town or a big city such as Arnold or out in the woods in southern De Soto,” says Beattie. ‘'These K-9s are utilized for all aspects of that.”

The new vests are lightweight, more durable, and easier to handle for deputies in the field. Typically, a K-9 can cost around $10,000 and another $13,000 for six weeks of training.

‘'We found this organization called Vested Interest out of East Taunton, Massachusetts,” says Beattie. ‘'What they were doing is helping out departments in purchasing vests for the K-9s.”

The non-profit charity assists law enforcement agencies with the lifesaving armor. Thanks to Michigan-based Armor Express, seven brand new bullet-proof and stab resistant vests, at around $1,000 each, are being put into service in Jefferson County.

‘'These dogs that live with us and work with us, we always worry about them being protected, and now we have protection for these dogs and it's a big thing for us,” says Beattie.