The Itawamba County Sheriff’s Department has received a bullet- and stab-protective vest for the county’s K-9 officer, Bing, thanks to a charitable donation from the nonprofit organization Vested Interest in K-9s, Inc.

The vest was sponsored by Dr. Heidi Cox of Phoenix, Arizona, and embroidered with the inscription, “Born to Love — Trained to Serve — Loyal Always.”

Itawamba County Sheriff Chris Dickinson said the donation provided a key piece of safety gear for one of the department’s officers.

“We’re very appreciative of the generous donation,” Dickinson told The Times. “We run on a tight budget, and donations like this are very beneficial to the department.”

This potentially lifesaving body armor for four-legged officers is made in the United States, custom-fitted, and National Institute of Justice (NIJ) certified. There are an estimated 30,000 law enforcement K-9s throughout the United States.

The Itawamba County Sheriff’s Department purchased Bing in 2013 as a part of a $14,000 private donation made through the CREATE Foundation. He is trained in narcotics detection, criminal apprehension and tracking.

Since its inception, Vested Interest in K-9s, Inc. has provided more than 3,917 vests to K-9s in all 50 states at a value of $6.9 million, made possible by both private and corporate donations.

The program is open to dogs at least 20 months old, actively employed, and certified with law enforcement or related agencies. K-9s with expired vests are also eligible to participate.

Established in 2009, the nonprofit is a 501(c)(3) charity whose mission is to provide bullet and stab protective vests and other assistance to dogs of law enforcement and related agencies. Vested Interest in K9s, Inc. accepts tax-deductible contributions in any amount, while a single donation of $960 will sponsor one vest. Each approximately 5-pound vest has a value of $1,744-$2,283.

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