K-9 Unit

The French Foundation funds $8500 in protective vests for Minnesota K9’s

Neko Good 2

The Winona Police Department’s K9 Neko has received a ballistic vest thanks to a nonprofit 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 lifesaving body armor for their four legged K9 Officers. Through private and corporate sponsorships, Vested Interest in K9s, Inc. provided over 1198 law enforcement dogs in 40 states with protective vests since 2009 at a cost of $1,138,100.00



In February 2009, Deputy Chief Williams and Officer Barrientos made the trip to St. Paul to pick up the German Shepherd dog assigned to the City of Winona. The dog, which was imported from the Czech Republic, came with the name “Emo.” Upon arrival in the United States, Emo was ten months old and had no formal training.

Emo returned to Winona to live at home with Officer Barrientos. Emo’s name was changed to “Neko.”

In March of 2009, Officer Barrientos and Neko embarked on a twelve week basic patrol dog course in the City of St. Paul. The course was attended by officers from Minnesota, Wisconsin and Iowa. Throughout the twelve weeks, Officer Barrientos and his new partner stayed in a hotel and traveled home for the weekends. The course taught Neko skills such as obedience, agility, building searches, area searches, article searches, tracking, bite work and handler protection. The course was also directed towards the handlers, teaching them dog training skills and problem solving techniques.

Officer Barrientos and Neko graduated the basic patrol dog course in June of 2009. In November of 2009, Officer Barrientos and Neko returned to St. Paul for another three weeks of training. This training was to certify Officer Barrientos and Neko in narcotics detection. After completing the training course, Neko was trained and certified in locating marijuana, cocaine, crack-cocaine, methamphetamine and heroin.

Since graduation, Neko’s skills have been put to use multiple times.