K9 Don's handler now has one less thing to worry about - if Don is shot or stabbed. There's a good chance the bullet or sharp object won't penetrate his skin.
Thanks to donations from the community, facilitated by a citizen named Karon Ratke and the nonprofit Vested Interested in K9s, Inc., all four Spartanburg K9 officers have new stab and bulletproof vests.
The Threat Level 2 gear ensures their vital organs will be protected when chasing bad guys.
Ratke, an animal lover, helped raise money for each of the vests. All were priced at more than a thousand dollars each.
"Once the fundraising has completed the funds go to Vested Interest, and they're able to get the vests, which are about $1,050 dollars at a discount price," Ratke said.
He said seeing news of K9s being shot and killed is painful. The vests come just three months after an Anderson Co. K9 officer, Hyco, was shot and killed while cops were responding to a carjacking call. The call turned out to be a hoax, and three people were charged in connection.
"There's no use in taking it out on an animal," said Don's handler, Officer Shane Morrow with Spartanburg City Police. "We send them in to do a job - that's what they're supposed to do."
Ratke said she is also working with the nonprofit to get vests for Greer Police K9s, and she does not plan on stopping there.
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