Should Safety Of Our K-9 Dogs Be So Expensive?


Police dogs are highly intelligent and highly-trained dogs that constantly perform dangerous tasks in the line of duty, and put their life at risk to protect us. 

Yet, unlike their human counterparts, these furry officers are not provided with life-saving bulletproof vests.

K-9 dogs and their handlers all across the U.S. have to deal with this reality regardless of how shocking and unfair it may seem. Every day, they face death with no protection except for their fur. 

It really makes you think… shouldn’t these heroic dogs be automatically equipped with protective vests just like any other police officer? Why do they have to depend on donations and the kindness of people? 

Why Don’t All K-9 Dogs Have Protective Vests? 

k9 dog with wound on chest
Photo from: ABC News

There are over 50,000 active police dogs all across the country, but they do not provide the majority of them with bulletproof vests that could save their life. 

The problem is not the lack of care or love, but, in fact, the lack of necessary funding. 

While enlisting canines in police work is quite common, providing them with lifesaving equipment is shockingly not a standard part of the department’s budget. 

A K-9 dog performs many tasks that humans are simply not capable of doing. More often than not, they even face a greater risk than their human partners because they are usually first on the front line, facing the most dangerous confrontations.

So, the fact that they do all of that without any proper protective equipment is actually alarming. 

Canine vests cost more than $1,000 each and, on top of that, there is the cost of buying and training the dog for duty, which can exceed thousands of dollars. Customized vests can even run up to $3,000 each. [1]

Most law enforcement departments sadly don’t have that kind of funding, which means that their K-9 officers have to do their job without a crucial life-saving tool — a bulletproof vest.  

Headlines, such as “K-9 officer shot on duty” are still, unfortunately, quite common. In 2022, 25 K-9 officers lost their life in the line of duty, and 11 of them died precisely because of gunfire — a number that was significantly higher than in the previous years. 

It’s undeniable that K-9 ballistic vests are needed more than ever. For these hard-working dogs, this tool can make all the difference.

Protect The Dogs That Protect Us

K9 state patrol of iowa
Photo from: @vik9s

Due to their self-funding nature, most K-9 units are reliant on external funding to purchase their life-saving equipment.

This means that the safety of K-9 officers is almost completely dependent on grants, fundraisers, and donations from non-profit organizations and generous individuals. 

Thankfully, several non-profit organizations have made it their mission to help vest as many K-9 officers as possible and, hopefully, thus, save their life. 

Vested Interest In K9s

k9 wearing a vest
Photo from: ABC News

In 2009, Sandy Marcal, a lifelong animal lover, founded the non-profit organization, Vested Interest in K9s, which is dedicated to raising money to provide bullet-and-stab-proof vests to K-9 officers throughout the U.S.

“When I found out that agencies didn’t have the opportunities to provide vests due to budget constraints, I started planning events and doing fundraising as an independent volunteer… then I incorporated it as a non-profit in order to have opportunities to vest dogs nationwide.”

Her all-time goal is to vest every K-9 in the U.S. 

“The dog goes in first. He is the first responder, and he deserves to have the vest, just like his human partner”, said Marcal to ABC News. 

They have donated more than 5,008 ballistic vests to K-9 units nationwide since she started the organization in 2009.

“I see the bond when I look at each of these officers with their dog, and I feel like I am doing what I am meant to do.”

In 2018, K-9 officer, Gabo, survived being shot five times while on duty, thanks to his life-saving vest that was donated to him precisely by Vested Interest in K9s. 

Brady’s K9 Fund

photo of Brady receiving an award
Photo from: Homeland Security Today

In 2018, an 8-year-old boy from Ohio, Brady Snakovsky, found out that bulletproof vests were not automatically issued to police dogs. 

“I saw that the handler was wearing one, but the K9 was not, and I asked my Mom about it. That is when she told me that ballistic vests are not automatically issued to the K9s like their human partners”, said Brady. 

Even at that age, he knew he had to do something to help these brave dogs.  

In collaboration with his mother, Leah, he created a GoFundMe account.

This boy managed to raise a staggering $102,000 to fund bulletproof vests for K-9 dogs in less than a year. 

Brady’s K9 Fund has provided 778 dogs across the country with lifesaving ballistic vests since 2018.

Brady photographed with a k9 dog
Photo from: @bradysk9fund

All of them strive to equip all working dogs with bulletproof vests similar to those worn by their human partners, so that both can return home safely.

Thankfully, there are a lot more non-profit organizations with the same mission of providing our brave K-9 officers with life-saving gear, but they can’t do it alone. 

At the end of the day, the question still remains — why does the safety of our K-9 dogs come at such a high price?

[1] Hoover, A. (2021). K9 Bullet Proof Vests: Prioritizing the Safety of Our Police Dogs, Retrieved March 27, 2023, from