Police raising money to outfit K-9 dog officers with protective vests

Officer Laura Turner with K-9 Simon, Officer Sokhom Klann with K-9 Icon and Officer Eric Bullen with K-9 Gunnar as they completed their graduation this summer at the K-9 Unit's training facility in Minneapolis.  (MPR photo/Brandt Wiliams)

Police officers wear bulletproof vests because they face the very real possibility of being shot or stabbed while performing their jobs.  But what about police dogs? Over the years, several Minneapolis police dogs have been seriously injured or killed on the job.

In 2000, K-9 Sam was awarded the department’s Medal of Honor after he was stabbed in the line of duty and forced to retire.  Two K-9s have died from falls while chasing suspects.

A group called K-9 Invest is holding a fundraiser at Psycho Suzi’s Motor Lounge in northeast Minneapolis tonight to raise money to buy specially made protective vests.  According to the group’s Facebook page, the vests cost around $2,600 a piece.  (Police officials say vests for two-legged officers average around $950.)

There are 15 K-9s in the Minneapolis Police Department, so organizers will have to raise nearly $40,000 to outfit the whole unit.  At least one of the active members of the K-9 unit is expected to make an appearance at the fundraiser.  However,  they will be the only dogs allowed at the party.  Organizers are asking attendees to keep their dogs at home.