LANCASTER, Pa. --- Since last December, K9 Bear has executed more than 40 searches with the Lancaster County Drug Task Force.
During that time, he hasn't had a protective vest.
Thanks to a recent donation, he does now.
“To have that protective, potentially life-saving equipment...it’s wonderful for us," said Craig Stedman, Lancaster County District Attorney.
K9 Bear now wears a bullet and stab resistant body suit.
It was donated by a non-profit organization called "Vested Interest in K9s."
K9 Bear's handler, Detective Anthony Lambardo, applied for the grant, which requires a K9 to be at least 20 months old, actively working in the United States and certified with its current handler.
One that is clear, Sandy Marcal, founder and president of Vested Interest in K9s, said they secure funding and then donate a custom-made vest for the K9.
"They get sent into potentially dangerous situations. They’re there to protect their human officer and he has a vest. So we feel as though the dog should be afforded the same level of protection,” said Marcal.
With each vest comes a somber reminder.
On K9 Bear’s vest, there is a memorial for K9 TY of the California City Police Department, who died as a result of injuries sustained in the line of duty.
Stedman said they’re lucky to have the vest to make sure bear is safe no matter what comes their way.
“There’s a bond that’s created. He’s a family member for Detective Lombardo as well as a co-worker so you just want to make sure he’s coming home at the end of the day, like any of our officers,” said Stedman.
The four to five pound body armor costs between $1,744-$2,293.
Thanks to the donation, it didn't cost Lancaster County any money.
Vested Interest in K9s has donated an estimated 3,200 protective vests to K9s across all 50 states.