SARASOTA - John Elwood is a canine handler and Deputy Chief of Operations for Manatee County's Search and Rescue Team. He and his service dog Karma are participating in a country-wide contest. 

"The contest is being held by a non–profit organization called Vested Interest in Canines. In order to enter the contest, you would have to receive a vest. Karma this year received a ballistic vest from this organization. Then, I submitted to enter the contest. Your vehicle had to have over  76 thousand miles on it and currently I'm driving a 2007 Chevy Tahoe with one hundred and 16 thousand miles on it," Elwood said. 

Elwood is the only representative from the state of Florida in the contest and the prize he's after is a new Chevy Tahoe which he says will greatly benefit Manatee County's Search and Rescue. 

"Earlier this year I had a catastrophic engine failure that took 5 thousand dollars to repair. I am the only contestant in the state of Florida and also the only contestant out of thirty that is not a law enforcement officer," Elwood said.  

To vote, you can visit