Johnson County’s bullet and stab protective vest recipient, Rico and his Handler, T.J. Brown pose for a photo in Mountain City. Rico received the protective gear from Vested Interest in K9s, Inc. a 501c(3) charity organization located in East Taunton, MA. The vest was donated to the Johnson County Sheriff’s Office in memory of K9 Josey of the Union County Sheriff’s Office, TN.” Submitted photo.

By Tamas Mondovics

Johnson County Sheriff’s Office K9 Rico and his deputy handler JCSO Deputy T.J. Brown is ready to face the next chase, thanks to a brand new addition to Rico’s protective gear.
Rico received a bullet and stab protective vest thanks to a generous donation from Vested Interest in K9s, Inc. a 501c(3) charity organization located in East Taunton, MA,
With respect and honor of K9 units across the nation, the vest is embroidered with the sentiment, “In memory of K9 Josey, Union County Sheriff’s Office, TN”.
“I am very grateful for the donation and appreciate what Vested Interest is doing for our K9 deputy-partners,” Brown said.
Brown, a longtime law enforcement veteran, who has been with Rico for more than three years emphasized that a lot of smaller departments do not have the funds to provide such protective gear. “Receiving this vest is a priceless piece of armor we need and shows the great support on behalf of our K9s.”
As referenced by Brown, such armor is by no means cheap and for a good reason as it saves lives. That is a K9 officer’s lives. There is an estimated 30,000-law enforcement K9s throughout the United States.
The donation to provide one protective vest for law enforcement K9 is $950.00. Each vest reportedly has a value between $1,744 – $2,283, and a five-year warranty and an average weight of 4-5 lbs.
“K9s are trained to wear harnesses so this vest does not hinder Rico to get the job done,” Brown said.
Vested Interest in K9s, Inc’s 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 more than 3,300 protective vests in 50 states, through private and corporate donations, at a value of $5.7 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.
“Our K9 team here at Johnson County continues to work very hard to keep our community safe and protected as they are a huge asset to the department,” said Johnson County Sheriff, Eddie Tester.
Tester added that along with the department’s K9 recipient Rico and his handler T.J. Brown, the whole K9 team and department at the Johnson County Sheriff’s Office would like to thank Vested Interest in K9’s, for the opportunity to be selected for the bullet and stab protective vest. “We are grateful for the donation made in memory of K9 Josey.”
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.