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How do K9s stay safe in the dangerous world of policing?

By Stepheny Frederiksen,


FRESNO, Calif. ( KSEE/KGPE ) – Not only do police officers and sheriff’s deputies put their lives on the line daily, but their K9 companions do as well.

But what does law enforcement do to protect their K9s?

K9s with the Fresno County Sheriff’s Office are equipped with “stab vests.” The Sheriff’s Office received them as a donation from the community and it’s just one part of keeping the dogs safe.

Tony Botti with the Fresno County Sheriff’s Office says several factors come into play to determine what dogs wear the vests. He says it depends on the situation the dogs are in and that weather also plays a factor, especially in the Central Valley during the summer heat.

Botti says the dogs have been essential in helping keep officers and the community safe and that the department was relieved when a state assembly bill was introduced back in February that would ban the use of police canines for apprehending suspects, arresting suspects, and crowd control, did not pass the Senate.

The Merced County Sheriff’s Office says they also use cavalier vests for their K9s during incidents of increased harm to them and their deputies.

K9s are very valuable to law enforcement, able to see and smell things that their human handlers may not notice. Officials say they go through a thorough process by internal staff and experts to be selected.

“The K9 must have the “drive” to work for a reward,” said says Alexandra Britton with the Merced County Sheriff’s Office. “Additionally our K9s must have the proper temperament to work alongside their handler and other deputies, and bond with family at home.”

Britton added that the K9 teams train for several hours monthly, in and outside of work. The cost of a new K9 and its training can be an amount upwards of $15,000 to $20,000.

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