The Toms River Police Department's K9 officers will soon be wearing an extra layer of protection in the form of bulletproof vests, thanks to the efforts of a nonprofit organization.
Vested Interest in K9s, of Massachusetts, will donate three ballistic vests to the department. The says its mission is to provide bullet and stab protective vests and other assistance to dogs of law enforcement.
Each vest costs $950 and has a 5 year warranty. The vests are made in the United States by Regency Police Supply in Hyannis, Mass., and come embroidered in memory of a fallen police dog.
Toms River's three K9s, Cyrus, Brutus and Gunnar, will wear a patch remembering K9 Rocco of the Pittsburgh Police Department, police spokesman Ralph Stocco said.
Toms River Ptl. Kyle Martucci handles Cyrus, Sgt. James Reilly is partnered with Brutus, and Ptl. Richard Buhowski is partnered with Gunnar.
Vested Interest in K9s was formed in 2009 and, through both private and corporate sponsorships, has provided over 1,000 law enforcement dogs in 39 states with protective vests since 2009 at a cost of $880,000.
For more information or to learn about volunteer opportunities with the group, local residents can call 508-824-6978 or visit the group's website at www.vik9s.org.