CRESTVIEW — A nationally known nonprofit organization is rallying people across the country to donate money for Crestview Police Department’s K9 Officer Kody to receive a ballistic vest.
James Hatch, a retired Navy Seal, founded Spikes K9 Fund. Hatch was critically wounded during his last deployment but credits his survival to K9 Remco, who was killed in Iraq in 2009. The organization raises money for K9s specific needs like protective equipment, GPS trackers, and medical coverage for K9's who have retired.
K9 Kody, who often answers to Freddy, received a place on the fundraiser list after Jenn Parks, the Florida representative for Spikes K9 fund, reached out to the Crestview Police Department.
Hatch said that before the K9 makes the list, the handler must go through a verification process and prove the K9's need for the vest.
Before Kody was placed on the list, Nate Marlar, Kody’s handler, had to take his measurements and choose the color for the vest. Marlar said he chose a “coyote brown” ballistic vest for his canine partner. He has been with the police department for three years and Kody for eight months.
“With him, every time we’re out there and there’s a time whenever somebody might be armed or something, and we’re going into the unknown, that’s definitely something that’s on your mind because dogs are pretty awesome, but they’re not bulletproof,” Marlar said.
Marlar said Kody is next in line to receive his vest, and his fellow Crestview K9 officer, Sonic, is also on the list.
"(Kody) would give his life for me in a heartbeat, and it's my job to protect him," Marlar said. "I'm glad to know he's going to be able to be covered just like I am."
The ballistic vests, made by K9 Storm, are $2,500. The money donated to the Spike’s K9 Fund goes to the K9 at the top of the list.
"Once we get those donations in, even if we get enough in to put vests on two or three, we'll do that as quickly as we can," Hatch said.
Currently, Hatch said about eight or nine K9s are on the list.
Visit www.spikesk9fund.org for more information.
NOTE: A previous version of this story contained incorrect information. The K9 who died on Hatch's last deployment in 2009 was K9 Remco. K9 Spike died in 2006. The name of the company that provides the vests is K9 Storm.