(Tipton County, TN) We often forget the role canines play in law enforcement.
The four-legged crime fighters are often the first to enter buildings in search of burglars or other violent suspects, so it makes sense they need the same protection as their handlers.
In Tipton County, residents showed their support Tuesday for K-9 deputies and police officers with a life-saving presentation.
"We're going to have a parade of the canines."
At the Tipton County Sheriff's Department it was a fashion show, with attitude.
The models? K-9 deputies and police officers with names like Bella, Kera, Keno, and Ero.
All together, eight dogs from Tipton and Fayette counties, sported their new K-9 Kevlar vests.
Tipton County Sheriff J.T. "Pancho" Chumley acknowledged the important role canines play every day in law enforcement.
"Our canine officers do some of the most dangerous jobs we have to deal with. A lot of times when we deploy the canines we have them out in some situations where it's really tough," said Sheriff Chumley.
Pansy Bradley spearheaded a fundraising drive, collecting enough money to buy the vests at one thousand dollars a piece.
The tight partnership between canine and handler is the reason she canvassed Tipton County for donations.
"These dogs, the canines, their partners, they're with them everyday. They're family basically and when they're on duty with them, they need to be protected as well," said Bradley.
Each vest weighs five to six pounds and is designed to cover the front and sides of the dog's abdomen, protecting vital organs.
The vests are made from the same material as those worn by the canine's handler.
They are designed to take the impact of small handguns and smaller caliber rifles.
In the event the unthinkable happens, the vest gives the dog a fighting chance.
"Of course it's going to cause injury, even with the ballistic vest. But the injuries are survivable," said Tipton County Deputy Chris Payne.
The most important thing is the new body armor could someday be a lifesaver.
Covington Police Chief Buddy Lewis said every community, regardless of how big or small, can appreciate the role of K-9 crime fighters.
"In this day and time, you've really got to have a dog, a canine, to do the work that needs to be done," said Chief Lewis.
And it turns out that so much money was donated that three more vests can be purchased for K-9 police officers in Millington and Oakland, Tenn.