Pinal County Sheriff’s Office K9s Bandit and Niko will receive a bullet and stab protective vest thanks to a charitable donation from non-profit organization Vested Interest in K9s, Inc. K9 Bandit’s vest is sponsored by Sunland Springs Village "Pet Pals" Club of Mesa, AZ and will be embroidered with the sentiment “Gifted by Sunland Springs Village "Pet Pals"”. Delivery is expected within eight to ten weeks. K9 Bandit is a four-year-old Belgian Malinois currently assigned to work in the Pinal County Adult Detention Facility with Detention Officer Wagler. K9 Bandit has been with Pinal County Sheriff's Office since December 2015. K9 Bandit is trained and certified to detect narcotic odors as well as support our officers in and outside of the adult detention center. The vest being awarded to K9 Bandit by Vested Interest will help in protecting K9 Bandit when he is used during events of civil unrest in the detention facility and when a violent inmate needs to be taken into custody. K9 Niko is an almost four-year-old Belgian Malinois who is certified in Narcotics Odor Detection and Patrol Service. K9 Niko has been with the Pinal County Sheriff's Office since May 2016 and is currently assigned to Deputy Kenneth Nardelli. Together they conduct criminal interdiction efforts throughout Pinal County. The vest that K9 Niko will receive from Vested Interest will help in protecting him when he is assisting patrol and investigations staff searching homes, structures and open areas for violent offenders attempting to evade arrest. “These K9s do an incredible amount of work to protect the residents of Pinal County,” said Sheriff Mark Lamb. “They need the same protection as our deputies and we are thankful for the generous donation made by Vested Interest.” 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. The non-profit was established in 2009 to assist law enforcement agencies with this potentially lifesaving body armor for their four-legged K9 officers. Since its inception, Vested Interest in K9s, Inc. provided over 2,900 protective vests, in 50 states, through private and corporate donations, at a value of $5.7 million dollars. The program is open to dogs actively employed in the U.S. with law enforcement or related agencies who are certified and at least 20 months of age. New K9 graduates, as well as K9s with expired vests, are eligible to participate. The donation to provide one protective vest for a law enforcement K9 is $950.00. Each vest has a value between $1,744 – $2,283 and a five-year warranty, and an average weight of 4-5 lbs. There are an estimated 30,000 law enforcement K9s throughout the United States. 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 tax-deductible donations of any denomination at www.vik9s.org or mailed to P.O. Box 9 East Taunton, MA 02718.