K9 Neko was born in the Czech Republic in 2008. Neko was imported to the United States in 2009 and was paired with his handler, Officer Brad Barrientos of the Winona Police Department. Officer Barrientos and Neko completed a three month training program in St. Paul MN to certify Neko in tracking, building searches, agility, obedience, and handler protection. The two also completed an additional month of training to certify in narcotics detection. When not working, Neko lives with Officer Barrientos and his family. On his off time, Neko enjoys going on hikes and playing with his tennis ball.
The Winona Police Department and K9 Neko have been awarded a ballistic vest thanks to a non-profit organization, Vested Interest in K9s, Inc. and The French Foundation. The $8500 grant will be providing vests for the following departments in Minnesota; 4 K9’s from St. Louis County Sheriff’s Office, 1 K9 from Fairmont Police Department, 1 K9 from Winona Police Department, 1 K9 from Leech Lake Tribal Police Department, 1 K9 from Winona County Sheriff’s Office, and 1 K9 from Duluth Police Department.
Vested Interest in K9s, Inc. is a 501c (3) charity located in East Taunton, MA. 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. Each vest costs $950.00 and has a 5 year warranty. The nonprofit was established in 2009 to assist law enforcement agencies with this potentially life-saving body armor for their four legged K9 Officers. Through private and corporate sponsorships, Vested Interest in K9s, Inc. provided over 1100 law enforcement dogs in 39 states with protective vests since 2009 at a cost of $1,045,000.
Vested Interest in K9s, Inc. announces their calendar on sale now for $15.00 online at www.vik9s.org and at select retailers. Proceeds from the sales will provide bullet and stab protective vests. All goods and services for the calendar were donated by generous sponsors, photographers and participating law enforcement agency, for police dogs actively working without the potentially lifesaving equipment.
The organization orders the U.S. made vests exclusively from distributor Regency Police Supply in Hyannis, MA. who also does the custom embroidery on the body armor. Vests are manufacturer by Armor Express in Central Lake, MI.
New K9 graduates as well as K9’s with expired vests are eligible to participate. The program is open to law enforcement dogs who are US employed, certified and at least 19 months of age.
For more information or to learn about volunteer opportunities, please call 508-824-6978. Tax deductible donations accepted via mail to: Vested Interest in K9s, Inc. P.O. Box 9 East Taunton, MA 02718 or via the website: www.vik9s.org