BCC K9 Haxo receives body armor

Special to the Times-Gazette
Officer K9 Haxo of Butler Community College's Department of Public Safety has received a bullet and stab protective vest, thanks to a charitable donation from non-profit organization Vested Interest in K9s, Inc.

Officer K9 Haxo of Butler Community College’s Department of Public Safety has received a bullet and stab protective vest, thanks to a charitable donation from non-profit organization Vested Interest in K9s, Inc. K9 Haxo’s vest was embroidered with the sentiment “In memory of K9 Gabo, Jonesboro, AR EOW 1/16/20.”

Haxo is Butler’s first K-9 officer.

Lt. Tim Harder spent two months earlier this year training Haxo at American K-9 Interdiction in Virginia. He lived in a dorm and spent his days focused on turning Haxo into a narcotics detection officer, finishing the intensive program in June. Haxo is now trained on six types of drugs.

“It was overwhelming,” Harder said of the program.

Training was a full-time job, and then students also had to clean their dogs’ kennels.

The German Shepherd joined Butler’s police squad in April 2020 and has spent his time learning the job as he patrols Butler’s grounds with Harder.

When Harder’s remaining GI Bill benefits were about to expire, he found a way to donate $18,700 to Butler Community College to get a new partner.

Harder served in the U.S. Marines from 2005 to 2009. He’d already earned an associate degree and had “four months and some days remaining” to use his GI Bill. He did some research about K-9 officers and put together a plan.

“I think it’s absolutely incredible,” said Tom Borrego, executive director of the Butler Community College Foundation. “To think of the school as a part of his philanthropic giving is extremely nice. To give something back to the (college) is extraordinarily generous of him.”

In September the donation from Vested Interest for safety gear was announced. K9 Haxo is one of more than 4,100 dogs to receive body armor from Vested Interest.

“The donation from Vested Interest in K9s to a small department like ours at Butler Community College, will ensure that our K9 Haxo is safe to do his work,” said Butler Chief of Police Jason Kenney. “The help and support that Vested Interest in K9s provides for law enforcement across the country is truly remarkable.”

Vested Interest in K9s, Inc., established in 2009, 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 throughout the United States. This potentially lifesaving body armor for four-legged K9 officers is U.S. made, custom fitted, and NIJ certified. Since its inception, Vested Interest in K9s, Inc. has provided over 4,101 vests to K9s in all 50 states at a value of $6.9 million, made possible by both private and corporate donations.

The program is open to U.S. dogs that are at least 20 months old and actively employed and certified with law enforcement or related agencies. K9s with expired vests are also eligible to participate. There are an estimated 30,000 law enforcement K9s throughout the United States.

Vested Interest in K9s, Inc. accepts tax-deductible contributions in any amount, while a single donation of $960 will sponsor one vest. Each vest has a value of $1,744-$2,283, weighs an average of 4-5 lb., and comes with a five-year warranty. For more information, or to learn about volunteer opportunities, please call 508-824-6978. Vested Interest in K9s, Inc. provides information, lists events, and accepts donations at www.vik9s.org, or you may mail your contribution to P.O. Box 9, East Taunton, MA 02718.