Alice Police Department’s K9 Rex will receive a bullet and stab protective vest thanks to a charitable donation from non-profit organization Vested Interest in K9s, Inc.

K9 Rex’s vest is sponsored by an Anonymous Donor and will be embroidered with the sentiment, “This gift of protection provided by Vested Interest in K9s, Inc”. Delivery is expected within eight to ten weeks.

Rex is partnered with Alice Police Officer Tim LaGesse for approximately a year. Rex is a two-year-old K9 who specializes in narcotics and patrol.

Due to budget issues, Rex does not currently have a vest to protect him from harm. LaGesse applied to the non-profit organization in hopes that Rex would be chosen as a recipient.

Vested Interest in K9s, Inc. is a 501c (3) charity located in East Taunton, MA 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.

“We just never know what can happen especially when (Rex) has to track someone down,” LaGesse said. “With the vest it'll lessen the possibilities that he would get injured.”

To LaGesse and his family Rex is not just a dog or a partner to fight crime, he is a member of the family.

“He comes home with me and my family,” LaGesse said. “He is our family and would be devastated if something would happen to him.”

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

The program is open to dogs actively employed in the U.S. 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 and $2,234 and a five-year warranty. The average weight of the vest is 4 to 5 pounds.

There are an estimated 30,000 law enforcement K9s throughout the United States.

For more information or to learn about volunteer opportunities, please call 508-824-6978. Vested Interest in K9s, Inc. provides information, lists events, and accepts tax-deductible donations of any denomination at www.vik9s.org or mailed to P.O. Box 9 East Taunton, MA 02718.