The Sarasota County Sheriff's Office K-9 Unit will soon be equipped with ballistic vests for its six dogs, thanks to the Sarasota County community.
On Thursday, April 12, the sheriff’s office posted a photo to Facebook of K-9 Deputy Kevin Skau and his partner, Ando, wearing a ballistic vest from Canine Tactical. In the caption, the agency mentioned the need to purchase five more vests for the remaining members of the K-9 Unit, at a cost of $1,700 apiece. Within minutes, community members offered to host fundraisers, write personal checks, and launch online campaigns to help the agency cover the costs. Judy Braham, of Gulfcoast Marketing Consultants, LLC, with permission from the sheriff’s office, launched a GoFundMe page and in less than four days, more than $4,000 was donated. Two private donors and a local motorcycle club also pledged to cover the cost of one vest each. The GoFundMe page went “live” on Friday, April 20 and was closed on Monday, April 23 with a total donation of $4,110.
“This is one of those unique experiences that is hard to put into words,” said Sheriff Tom Knight. “To say I am surprised the community got this off the ground and made this happen would be inaccurate. This is the kind of community we live in; these are the kind of people we serve and we just feel humbled they took it upon themselves to make an investment in their sheriff’s office. This experience is something our K-9 Unit will remember for years to come.”
The sheriff’s office will order five ballistic vests once the remaining funds are received. Each vest must be custom-ordered and fitted, and will take several weeks to arrive. Once the dogs are equipped with their vests, the sheriff’s office plans to invite donors and members of the local media for a special meet-and-greet with K-9 handlers and their partners.