Sheriff's K-9s outfitted with ballistics vests

  • Updated: May 6, 2014 - 3:07 PM

Eight dogs trained in apprehension and narcotics and explosives detection will receive the $950 protective vests.

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Hennepin County K-9 Eddie, with handler Deputy Ethan Weinzierl, is one of eight dogs to be outfitted with protective vests.

Photo: Hennepin County Sheriff’s Department,

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Eddie has a dangerous and demanding job.

The Hennepin County K-9, who specializes in apprehension and narcotics detection, is often leading the chase when deputies are tracking down suspects.

His handler, Deputy Ethan Weinzierl, wears a bullet-resistant vest for protection.

Now Eddie, a German shepherd, will, too.

A Massachusetts-based nonprofit, Vested Interest in K-9s Inc., coordinated a campaign to provide eight of the Sheriff’s Office K-9s with ballistics vests, which can prevent bullet and stab wounds.

The dogs “are used for their noses. Unfortunately, that nose brings us into danger,” said Weinzierl, describing how suspects, sometimes armed and dangerous, can ambush K-9s and deputies. “The vest will give the dog a fighting chance.”

Eight K-9s — Eddie, Murphy, Jake, Smokey, Azor, Dugan, Brody and Rosko — will be outfitted with vests. Most of the dogs are dual trained. They help with apprehension and narcotics and explosives detection.

Each vest costs $950 and has a five-year warranty.

“These vests will be a big asset in keeping our four-legged crime fighters safe while on duty,” said Sheriff Rich Stanek in a written statement.

Vested Interest, based in East Taunton, Mass., coordinated fundraising to buy the vests. Donors included individuals, nonprofit groups, and a nationwide Groupon campaign.

Vested Interested, founded in 2009, has provided more than 930 law enforcement dogs in 39 states with protective vests. The organization orders the American-made vests exclusively from distributor Regency Police Supply in Hyannis, Mass.

During Eddie’s five years on the force, he’s helped officers nab dozens of suspects, making contact with six. He’s often used to help set up an outside perimeter when the SWAT team is deployed. He also helps when deputies serve arrest warrants.

“He can search a room in seconds compared to having a deputy open doors and look under beds,” Weinzierl said.

Eddie uses his nose to find people and items such as a gun thrown into a field by a fleeing suspect.

“He is a phenomenal tracking dog,” Weinzierl said

Eddie has been injured in the line of duty. A suspect pulled on one of his ears, breaking blood vessels. That ear now flops over but Eddie is still fit for duty.

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