Sarasota County Sheriff's Office K-9 Unit thanked the community on July 11 for raising money to equip its K-9s with new body armor.
Dogs with the Sarasota County Sheriff's Office got a little safer on Wednesday, thanks to a concerned citizen, a crowd-funding effort and a lot of donations.
On Wednesday, the Sheriff's Office thanked Judy Braham of Venice for launching the fundraising effort to buy five ballistic vests for the K-9 Unit's four-legged deputies.
In April, the county sheriff’s office posted to Facebook a photo of one of their dogs wearing a ballistic vest. The caption mentioned the need for five more vests with each costing $1,700. After seeing the post, Braham launched a fundraiser through GoFundMe.
Braham, whose husband is a retired police officer, said she wanted to give back to the sheriff's office even though she's not a "dog person." Braham presented a check to the Sarasota County Sheriff's Office and Sheriff Tom Knight awarded her a certificate of appreciation.
“This community supports law enforcement more than any place I've ever worked in my 32- year career,” said Knight. “Sarasota is truly invested in these dogs and understands the need to keep them safe.”
The K-9 Unit is made up of six teams trained in multiple specialties including narcotics detection, explosive detection and human searches. The new vests from K9 Tactical Gear are lightweight enough for the dogs to wear throughout a shift. The previous vests were heavy, caused the dogs to overheat and were only used in the most dangerous situations.
“Although these dogs are our partners, these dogs are more than that to us,” said K-9 Unit supervisor Troy Sasse. “They go home with us, they sleep in our bed sometimes, and they roll around the floor with our kids. They really are part of the family.”