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posted: 6/28/2014 8:00 AM

Elgin, South Elgin K9s get vests

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  • Video: Elgin K9 gets new vest

  • Elgin Police Officer Chad Schuttrow with K9 Colt, who received a donated ballistic vest through a partnership between Groupon and Vested Interest in K9s, Inc. Colt is a German shepherd.

       Elgin Police Officer Chad Schuttrow with K9 Colt, who received a donated ballistic vest through a partnership between Groupon and Vested Interest in K9s, Inc. Colt is a German shepherd.
    John Starks | Staff Photographer

  • South Elgin's Rio, a German shepherd, received a ballistic vest donated through a partnership between Groupon and Vested Interest in K9s, Inc. Rio's handler is South Elgin Police Officer Bryan Kmieciak.

       South Elgin's Rio, a German shepherd, received a ballistic vest donated through a partnership between Groupon and Vested Interest in K9s, Inc. Rio's handler is South Elgin Police Officer Bryan Kmieciak.
    Elena Ferrarin | Staff Photographer

 
 

The Elgin and South Elgin police departments recently received donated K9 police dogs ballistic vests funded through a Groupon campaign last winter.

Elgin's Colt and South Elgin's Rio, both German shepherds, are getting used to the vests, which were delivered a couple of weeks ago, their handlers said.

"He's had it on in the car. He's pretty OK with it. He's not shaking it off too bad," said Elgin Police Officer Chad Schuttrow, Colt's handler.

A number of Elgin employees contributed to the campaign, Schuttrow said.

South Elgin Police Officer Bryan Kmieciak, Rio's handler, said the dog didn't like the vest much at first.

"It restricts his mobility, but it's a piece of equipment he's going to have to get used to wearing," he said.

The vests, which normally cost about $950, were donated by Vested Interest in K9s Inc., a nonprofit based in Massachusetts that partnered with Groupon. The campaign ran Feb. 15 to March 5 and raised $335,000, providing vests to more than 350 police dogs across the country, said Vested Interest public relations coordinator Justine Long.

This is the third year that Vested Interest has partnered with Groupon for its most successful campaign yet, she said.

"We were all with our mouths down saying, 'We can't believe how many dogs we're going to be able to vest,' " she said.

This year's Groupon campaign was held in memory of Rocco, a K9 from the Pittsburgh Police Department who died in the line of duty in January after being stabbed while protecting his handler and another officer, Long said.

To be eligible for the donated vests, dogs must be at least 19 months old and certified by the United States Police Canine Association.

So far, the company -- which also raises money through sponsors -- has donated about nearly 1,110 K9 vests since 2009, according to its website. "Our mission is to vest every canine in the United States," Long said.

Rio joined the South Elgin Police Department in September, while Colt joined the Elgin Police Department in November.

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