Lake County Sheriff’s Canine Axel recently received a bullet and stab protective vest following a donation from a local business in Lake Bluff. | Provided Photo

Lake County Sheriff’s Office Canine Axel has received a bullet and stab protective vest thanks to a donation from a non-profit organization sponsored by a Lake Bluff business.

The sheriff’s office announced in August that the vest was being donated by Vested Interest in K9s, Inc. and embroidered with the sentiment “Gifted by ELCO Mutual.”

Axel’s vest is sponsored by ELCO Mutual Life and Annuity of Lake Bluff.

Vested Interest in K9s, Inc. was established in 2009 and is a 501(c)(3) charity 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 potentially lifesaving body armor for four-legged officers is made in the United States, custom-fitted, and NIJ certified, Lake County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Chief Christopher Covelli said.

Sheriff John Idleburg thanked Vested Interest in K9s and ELCO Mutual Life and Annuity of Lake Bluff for the donation.

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“We are so grateful for this generous donation! This donation allows us to save the money we would have used for the vest and instead use it for other purposes to support our Canine Unit. We are fortunate to be part of such a generous community,” Idleburg said.

Since its inception, Vested Interest in K9s, Inc. has provided over 5,200 vests to canines in all 50 states at a value of $6.9 million, made possible by both 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. Canines with expired vests are also eligible to participate.

There are an estimated 30,000 law enforcement canines throughout the United States.

Vested Interest in K9s, Inc. accepts tax-deductible contributions in any amount. A donation of $985 sponsors one vest.

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Each vest has a value of $1,800, weighs an average of 4-5 pounds and comes with a five-year warranty.

Those interested in more information or who want to learn about volunteer opportunities can call 508-824-6978.

Vested Interest in K9s, Inc. provides information, lists events and accepts donations at www.vik9s.org.