A dozen K-9 police officers at law enforcement agencies in Hamilton and Bradley counties will soon sport new bulletproof vests after a local business donated $12,000 to equip the dogs.
K-9 officers at the Hamilton County Sheriff's Office, Bradley County Sheriff's Office, Collegedale Police Department and the Soddy Daisy Police Department will receive the vests.
The Miller Family Foundation, an organization created by founders of Miller Industries, a local company that builds tow trucks, gave the money for the equipment.
"We're looking forward to helping protect these selfless officers," Will Miller said.
Once the new vests are delivered, each department will have enough bulletproof vests for all of their dogs, officers said. Hamilton County has five K-9 officers, Soddy Daisy and Collegedale each have two, and Bradley County has seven, officers said.
Bradley County Sheriff Eric Watson said each K-9 officer is not only an important tool for the department, but also a significant financial investment. It costs between $7,000 and $10,000 to train one police dog.
"A lot of money is in these animals and we need to protect them as best we can," Watson said. "It ain't nothing for someone running from the law to try to stab or shoot a dog."
The K-9 officers will only wear the vests in particular situations, Hamilton County K-9 handler Deputy William Johnson said. The dogs will also go through extra training to ensure they are comfortable in the vests, he added.
Chattanooga police already have enough vests for their K-9 officers, and will not receive any of the donated vests, a spokesman said.
This story was updated on July 13 to clarify the entity that donated the money.