ST. JOSEPH — Three Berrien County Sheriff’s Office K-9 officers will be safer at work thanks to a donation of body armor.

Berrien County Undersheriff Chuck Heit said the bullet- and stab-protective vests donated from the nonprofit organization Vested Interest in K9s Inc. will go to police dogs Blek, Maxx and Mika.

The mission of Vested Interest in K9s Inc., established in 2009, is to provide protective vests and other assistance to dogs of law enforcement throughout the United States.

The potentially lifesaving body armor for the four-legged officers is U.S.-made and custom-fitted.

Since its inception, Vested Interest in K9s has provided more than 4,100 vests valued at $6.9 million to police dogs in all 50 states, made possible by private and corporate donations.

The program is open to U.S. dogs that are at least 20 months old and actively employed and certified with law enforcement or related agencies.

Heit said there are an estimated 30,000 law enforcement K9s across the nation. He said Vested Interest in K9s Inc. accepts tax-deductible donations in any amount, with a single donation of $960 sponsoring one vest. Each vest has a value of between $1,744 and $2,283, weighs an average of 4 to 5 pounds, and comes with a five-year warranty.

For more information or to learn about volunteer opportunities, call 508-824-6978.

Vested Interest in K9s Inc. provides information, lists events and accepts donations at www.vik9s.org. Or, contributions can be mailed to P.O. Box 9, East Taunton, MA 02718.

Contact: jswidwa@TheHP.com, 932-0359, Twitter @HPSwidwa

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