I first read about Vested Interest In K9s a few years ago, and I was amazed at how much Sandy Marcal had accomplished in the name of keeping four legged officers safe. Over the months, I’ve posted many pawsitive (see what I did there?!) stories about events VIK9s was holding, and I wondered how many hundreds of people she had helping her in her huge organization.
I mean, come on. How much can ONE WOMAN do?!
I thought, “doggone it,” (ok I’ll stop but I didn’t even get to use ‘furrrocious’!) “I’m going to ask her,” and I quickly discovered that when you put a great idea together with a big heart, one person can indeed accomplish great things.
How did you get started working with the K9’s?
I saw a movie on Animal Planet called “RAIN” about a Vietnam war dog about 13 years ago. As an animal lover it piqued my curiosity about the working dogs. I learned that in most cases the law enforcement agencies budgets don’t stretch far enough to cover protective equipment or in some cases the K9 programs .
Is VIK9s something you started all on your own?
Yes, I began the nonprofit corporation and we have three board members (including me)
Why did you want to help them?
I have been an animal lover all my life and the working dogs put their lives on the line for their communities and partners. It just made sense to me that they have the same level of protection as their human partner.
How can others help you in your efforts?
We work with businesses who may wish to host an event and individuals in the community by offering them fundraising suggestions. Our website has a page called “HOW TO HELP”.
old. One 12 year old girl has already raised funds to outfit three police dogs with vests and is working on her fourth.
A 7 year old girl and her family held a memorial day event which took in over $1400 in an afternoon.
Our volunteers are the foundation of our organization. They help spread the word and assist at fund raising events, social media networking, flyer distribution, grant writing, making phone calls. We are always seeking additional volunteers to help join our efforts.
What is your biggest challenge with this type of work?
This type of work is very fast paced. I think the biggest challenge is finding volunteers who feel comfortable setting up and running events. I find more people are happy to donate their time to volunteer at an event .
What kind of fundraisers does VIK9s hold, and is it only K9’s within a certain area that you are able to help or do you work with police agencies all over the country?
Vested Interest in K9s, Inc. holds events at local venues, online events and with the help of fundraising partners (ie, Avon Products, Verizon Fios, Gold n Silver, Silpada Jewelry). Our efforts began in Massachusetts, our home state, and we expanded about 6 months ago to assist K9s throughout the United States. Most recently we provided vests for police dogs in Honolulu, Hawaii. We still focus on our home state initially and assist other states as the funds allow.
How do you decide which dog will receive a vest? Do you approach the police agency or do the officers approach you?
We maintain a waiting list. For general donations, we will vest the dogs in order of our waiting list. If a donor is generous enough to cover the cost of a vest which is $1006, we will give them an opportunity to select which K9 they would like to donate it to. Through networking we learn of the agencies who are in need of vests.
In this tight economy, do you find that people are still willing to help out the four legged officers?
We have been fortunate,even in these tough times, people have been generous. In 2011, we were able to provide vests for 64 working dogs throughout the United States.
One question I’ve ALWAYS had about this situation: why do PD’s invest so much time and effort and education into their K9’s yet don’t go that step further and buy a $800-$900 vest? With the thousands they’ve already invested, it seems like such a small price to pay to protect their officer.
What people may not realize is that the departments may not be in a position to fund the K9 program and the officer who will obtain the police dog is actually fundraising through a K9 fund for the cost of the dog and to outfit the cruiser with a cage system and hot-n-pop alarm system, veterinary care and food.
I noticed on your Facebook page that you were encouraging people to vote for K9 Gomo in the Hero Dog awards. Tell us a little about that.
I nominated K9 Gomo for the 2012 American Humane Society Hero Dog Awards and we need your votes to get to the finals. Officer Darvin Anderson, Gomo’s partner will attend the
awards ceremony in October and accept on behalf of Gomo who passed away the end of this year. Every VOTE counts. There are 15 other law enforcement dogs nominated who are ALL HERO’s. K9 Gomo is Vested Interest in K9’s special hero. K9 Gomo and Officer Darvin Anderson participated in a public service announcement for Vested Interest in K9s as well as appearing at many of the organizations events.
K9 Gomo (AND Officer Anderson!) was obviously a well loved dog as you can see by this gift to Officer Anderson
Thanks for your time, Sandy, and last but not least, if the readers of this website would like to donate to the K9s cause through your organization, how can they do that?
Tax deductable donations may be sent to: Vested Interest in K9s, Inc. P.O. Box 9 East Taunton, MA 02718 or via the website: www.vik9s.org