Gurnee Police Department canines Hawk and Leo have received their new bullet and stab protective vests that were donated by a non-profit organization and a private donor. | Provided Photos

Gurnee Police Department canines Hawk and Leo have received bullet and stab protective vests thanks to a donation from a non-profit organization sponsored by a private donor.

The vests were donated by Vested Interest in K9s, Inc. and embroidered with the sentiment “This gift of protection provided by Leah Beale.”

Leah A. Beale, who is a resident of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, sponsored the vests.

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, according to the Gurnee Police Department.

The department announced the donation in November and on Saturday announced the vests had arrived.

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Since its inception, Vested Interest in K9s, Inc. has provided over 5,470 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.

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.

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