The University of Michigan Police Department canines now are protected with new body armor made possible from a generous local donation. 

Nike and Tank now are equipped with bullet- and stab-protective vests from the non-profit organization Vested Interest in K9s Inc. The vests for the UMPD K9s are sponsored by retired faculty member Theodore Sippel of Manchester, Michigan, and are embroidered with the sentiment “Good Luck from the Prof.”

Nike’s handler, Officer Sue Upton, expressed her appreciation for the new equipment and the gift that provided it. 

“There are no words that could give justice to the amount of gratitude I have for U-M professor Sippel, who graciously donated the funding for our K9 vests, and the amazing people who stand behind Vested Interest K9, in keeping our K9 partners safe.”

Nike is one of two U-M Police K9s that recently received protective vests. (Photo courtesy of U-M Police Department)

Nike and Tank, both Belgian Malinois, are the third generation of canines to serve in the UMPD, a unit of the Division of Public Safety and Security. Their handlers are Upton and Officer Joe Dunny. Earlier this year, the teams completed recertification through the United States Police Canine Association in explosive detection, tracking and patrol work.  

“We appreciate the specialized work of the K9 teams on our campus, including helping to protect the Big House (Michigan Stadium),” said U-M Police Chief Bob Neumann. “We know police K9s can be vulnerable during other aspects of their work and these vests will provide another layer of safety.”

Vested Interest in K9s Inc. is a 501c(3) charity located in East Taunton, Massachusetts, 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 non-profit was established in 2009 to assist law enforcement agencies with this potentially lifesaving body armor for their four-legged K9 officers.

Since its inception, Vested Interest in K9s Inc. has provided more than 1,700 protective vests in 49 states through private and corporate donations, at a cost of more than $1.6 million. All vests are custom-made in the USA by Armor Express in Central Lake, Michigan.

The program is open to dogs actively employed in the United States with law enforcement or related agencies who are certified and at least 20 months of age. New K9 graduates, as well as K9s with expired vests, are eligible to participate.

The donation to provide one protective vest for a law enforcement K9 is $1,050. Each vest has a value between $1,795-$2,234, a five-year warranty and an average weight of 4-5 pounds. There are an estimated 30,000 law enforcement K9s throughout the United States.

For more information about Vested Interest in K9s Inc., to learn about volunteer opportunities or to donate, call 508-824-6978, go to www.vik9s.org or mail P.O. Box 9, East Taunton, MA, 02718.

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