ROCHESTER, Minn. (KTTC) -- A Rochester Police Department K9 named Titan received a free bullet and stab-proof vest.
The two and a half year old Dutch Shepherd received the vest on Wednesday.
Officer Vedran Tomic, Titan's partner, said safety for K9's is a huge priority.
"The only thing we can do is try to keep them safe. Because he doesn't know what he's going into. He doesn't know what the bad guy is going to do when he encounters somebody. So, we would like to keep them as safe as possible," he said.
The vest was donated from a non-profit organization called "Vested Interest In K9s (VIK9s)."
Sandy Marcal, the founder of the organization, said police dogs should be as protected as police officers. So far, the group has helped more than 4,000 K9's with vests. In Minnesota, more than 150 have received one.
Marcal shared a story about how a vest saved a dog's life.
"K9 Gabo was shot in the line of duty 5 times, and miraculously he survived. He had surgery. He went back to work full duty two months later. I held the nine milometer round that the vest stopped and saved the dog's life. And I can't even tell you the emotion that is it behind all of that. But I am so grateful that he had that vest and he was able to wear it," Marcal said.
Titan is one of eight K9's at RPD. Tomic said the average cost of a K9 vest is about $1,500.
"One of the hurdles as K9 units is the funding for just the mass array of equipment that becomes a need for these dogs," he said.
Titan's vest also has a message of remembrance for a Duluth K9 who was shot and killed in 2019.
Tomic has partnered with Titan for a year. He is grateful for the efforts VIK9s has made to protect his furry partner.
"Having a partner like him in the car with me. It makes the day to day life go much more smoother," Tomic said.
Click here for information on how to sponsor a vest.