North Huntingdon K-9s get new vests |
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Joe Napsha
Sgt. Kari Bauer (left) with K-9 Zargo and Officer Justin Wardman, with K-9 Rocco, wearing their new vests.

Two North Huntingdon K-9 officers have received body armor that is bullet- and stab-resistant, thanks to a Massachusetts organization.

K-9 Zargo, a German shepherd whose handler is Sgt. Kari Bauer, and K-9 Rocco, a Belgian malinois whose handler is Officer Justin Wardman, recently received the vests from Vested Interest in K9s Inc., a nonprofit based in East Tauton. North Huntingdon’s last three K-9s received their vests through Vested Interest, Bauer said.

The zippered vests, which carry a five-year warranty, weigh about four pounds and are custom made for the dog, Bauer said. The new vests are more flexible than previous ones.

The vest for K-9 Zargo was sponsored by the German Shepherd Club of Western Pennsylvania and is embroidered with the words, “Gifted by the GSD Club of W. Pa. in memory of K9 Vegas.” Vegas was Bauer’s K9, who died of natural causes in May 2017. Bauer acquired and trained with K-9 Zargo last year.

Donna and John Brenzia of North Huntingdon sponsored the vest for K-9 Rocco. That vest is embroidered with the phrase, “In Memory of Vegas.”

The township has a third K-9 officer, Nero, whose handler is Officer Jeremy Nichols.

The vests are placed on the K-9 when they are seeking or chasing a suspect, Wardman said.

“Whenever they’re tracking a bad guy, it (the vest) is going on the dog,” Wardman said.

Since Vested Interest was founded in 2009, it has provided more than 3,100 potentially life-saving body armor for K-9s throughout the nation. It has been able to provide the vests through private and corporate donations at a cost of more than $5.7 million. A $950 donation to Vested Interest can provide one vest with a value of $1,744 to $2,280, the organization said.

Joe Napsha is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Joe at 724-836-5252 or [email protected]

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