Operation Vest Defense


K9Vest_SU16Protecting the K9 officers who protect us

By Ellington Starks  |  Photography by Kelvin Andow

“Police dogs bring bad guys to justice and keep the community safe. Unarmed, they are taught to run toward trouble, bite just hard enough to subdue, and then return to their handler. Loyal, dedicated, and ready to lay down their life, police dogs intervene every day for the betterment of society.”  – bacbunleashed.com

For police officers, protective gear such as bullet-proof vests are part of the uniform. For their K-9 partners, expensive training comes first, and protective gear isn’t guaranteed.

Jointly the Olmsted County Sheriff’s Office and the Rochester Police Department has 13 K-9 teams. The newest K-9 members, currently in training, need vests to be as safe as possible while on duty.

Rochester’s Bone Appetit Canine Bakery (BACB) Unleashed has created Operation Vest Defense to raise money to purchase vests for the new K-9s. Each vest costs approximately $1,100.

“The vests are so expensive, but … we have so many in our community who love dogs and want to protect those that protect us,” says BACB Unleashed owner Pam Miller.

Sergeant Mike Drees of the Rochester Police Department K-9 Unit says although they have used national nonprofit vest provider in the past, it feels great “to do it locally and be able to get the local community involved.”

Canine and Community Minded

This isn’t BACB Unleashed’s first community effort. Last year its Fresh Air for Fido campaign raised money for nine area fire departments to purchase 34 pet oxygen masks.

“I don’t think you should have a business in town that doesn’t give back to the community that gives to you (shops at your business),” Miller says. “I want to create excitement and instill passion in the hearts of dog lovers, whether a BACB Unleashed event or a community giving project. It’s all about producing those moments of joy that people don’t forget.”

And when the money is “vested” for this project? “I am thinking I will check with other police departments in southeast Minnesota to find out if they are in need of K-9 unit vests and expand our reach to them as well.”

Ellington Starks is editor of the Wagazine.

Buy merchandise. For every purchase of BACB Unleashed merchandise or product, BACB Unleashed will donate 10 percent to Operation Vest Defense.

Buy a button. Purchase a  button for $10, and 100 percent of that donation will go to Operation Vest Defense.

Donate online. Give any amount at bacbunleashed.com/operation-vest-defense, and 100 percent of that donation will benefit Operation Vest Defense.

Support the Foundation. The Olmsted-Rochester Law Enforcement K-9 Foundation was started in 2014 to provide for K-9 needs not funded through regular budgets. Learn and donate at www.olmstedrochesterk9.org