Charlotte County Sheriff K-9s are showing up to work a little safer, thanks to new bullet proof vests.

When K-9 Sparta isn’t playing fetch, or chewing on his favorite toy, he’s out catching bad guys.

“He does tracking for criminals, we can do tracking for missing endangered people, and he can also do tracking for narcotics,” said CCSO Corporal John Mills.

Cpl. Mills and 5-year-old K-9 Sparta are inseparable.  

“The officer goes to work every day with his vest on and they want their partner to have the same protection they do,” said Sandy Marcal, founder of Vested Interest in K-9s.

The non-profit Vested Interest in K9s, Inc. donated the potentially lifesaving body armor. Mills can sleep better knowing his best friend is protected.

“The way that it’s shaped it protects the majority of his organs, his lungs, his heart, any of his major organs in his upper torso,” he said. 

“These dogs are the first ones sent into a dangerous situation and they need and deserve to have the same level of protection as their human officers,” said Marcal.

The gear is custom made to fit each dog’s size and needs.

“In Florida it’s hard for the dogs to wear vests because of the heat. These have mesh lining so it’s a little bit cooler for them,” said Mills. 

With the vest protecting K-9 Sparta’s life, K-9 Sparta can focus on protecting human lives.

Vested Interest has provided over 4,845 ballistic vests to K-9s across the country.

They have a contest right now to see who will be lucky number 5,000. The winner gets a free vest and a $5,000 dollar equipment grant.

To find out more click here