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Pontiac — Narcotics assignments are always dangerous work, but it just got a bit safer for a four-legged deputy who works under Oakland County Sheriff Michael Bouchard.

Gunner, a 3-year-old lab assigned to the Narcotics Enforcement Team for about a year, will receive a bullet and stab protective vest through a charitable donation from the nonprofit Vested Interest in K9s group, and manufacturer Armor Express, which is based in Central Lake.

As part of an incentive program, one free vest is being awarded for every 15 vests bought by the charity.

“We are forever grateful of this donation to K-9 Gunner, who is such an asset to our entire K-9 team,” Bouchard said. “K-9 Gunner is assigned to the Oakland County Narcotic Enforcement Team and has been responsible for the finds of several large narcotics quantities. This donation will keep him safe while he does his daily work going after drug traffickers.”

Bouchard’s deputies have 15 K-9 dogs in service, five of them without vests.

Vests were donated to K-9s in Michigan and 10 others states, according to a recent press release. Vested Interest in K9s Inc. — which is based in East Taunton, Massachusetts —was established in 2009 to help law enforcement throughout the U.S.

For Gunner, who has been certified in narcotics detection by the National Association of Professional Canine Handlers, the vest may be the difference between life and death.

Vested Interest has provided over 2,000 vests in 50 states at a cost of more than $1.7 million. In September, two Roseville Police Department K-9s, Chase and Corporal, received vests through the program.

The program is open to dogs employed in the U.S. with law enforcement or related agencies who are certified and at least 20 months of age. New K-9 graduates, as well as K-9s with expired vests, are eligible to participate.

A donation to provide a protective vest is $1,050. Each vest has a value between $1,795 and $2,234, a five-year warranty and an average weight of 4-5 pounds.

There are an estimated 30,000 law enforcement K-9s throughout the U.S.

For information about the program, call (508) 824-6978 or visit www.vik9s.org. Send donations to P.O. Box 9 East Taunton, MA 02718.

mmartindale@detroitnews.com

(248) 338-0319

Crime fighter

Gunner’s record with OCSO resulting in drug seizures:

140 narcotics searches

40 vehicle searches

1,700 grams of cocaine detected

280 grams of crack detected

1,230 grams of heroin

detected

250 grams of

methamphetamine detected

Source: Oakland County Sheriff’s Office

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