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Effingham K9's to get body armor

The Effingham County Sheriff’s Office K9’s, Arest and Gero, will receive bullet and stab-protective vests soon thanks to a charitable donation from non-profit organization Vested Interest in K9s, Inc.

Along with serving an important purpose, the vests will also carry an important message.

Arest and Gero’s vests will be embroidered with the sentiment ‘In memory of K9 Ty, California City Police Department’.

Delivery is expected within eight to 10 weeks.

Arest and Gero are both three-year-old Belgian Malinois. Both are certified in patrol and narcotics detection.

Arest is partnered with Deputy Jason Fondren, who has been with the Effingham County Sheriff’s Office for six years and assigned to the K9 and Traffic Unit since 2015.

Gero is partnered with Corporal Jamie Thompson, who has been with the department for 14 years and assigned to the K9 and Traffic Unit since 2010.

Arest and Gero regularly work with multiple local agencies and Special Operation Units on high risk operations. The awarding of these vests will give Arest and Gero an added level of safety during the deployment of these operations.

“On behalf of the entire Effingham County Sheriff’s Office, we wish to give a big thank you to Vested Interest in K9s for their continued support and commitment to keeping our K9 partners safe,” Effingham County Sheriff’s Department Public Information Officer Joe Heath said.

Vested Interest in K9s, Inc. is a 501c (3) charity located in East Taunton, MA whose 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 over 2,400 protective vests, in 50 states, through private and corporate donations, at a cost of over $2.1 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.

The donation to provide one protective vest for a law enforcement K9 is $1,050. Each vest has a value between $1,795–$2,234 and a five-year warranty with an average weight of four to five pounds. There is an estimated 30,000 law enforcement K9s throughout the United States.