Police officers say it can be terrifying for a fleeing suspect to have one of the pursuers be a K9, or police dog. Quite often, a suspect will surrender rather than have the dog released in hot pursuit. But if the K9 is directed to apprehend the suspect, it needs to be wearing protection.

That means the K9 wears a bulletproof/stab-proof vest. These vests are not cheap, costing nearly $1,000 apiece.

Every year for the past seven years, Beth Frank, owner of Alaska K9 Center, holds an event to raise funds to purchase vests, which are provided only for certified police dogs and their handlers. Why does she dedicate so much effort to this cause?

“It is absolutely my love of dogs and my love of law enforcement,” she said. “I support them 100%.

“This is very small compared to what they need,” she said. “Departments are tight budgeted.”

Alaska K9 Center is a dog training facility in North Pole. Frank is connected with Vested Interest in K9s, a national nonprofit organization whose mission is, in part, to protect dogs in law enforcement by providing bullet- and stab-proof vests. Since 2009, the organization has supplied 3,500 vests to K9s around the country.

Frank focuses on K9s in Alaska and has been responsible for providing vests for dozens of K9s. 

“I’m a tiny part of that,” she said. “I really wish I could do more.”

The 2019 fundraiser last weekend provided food, a silent auction, vendors and, for the first time, three new K9s undergoing their first week of training. Misty, 5, an experienced drug detection dog, was there. So was Scout, 9, a longtime K9 with her handler Alaska State Trooper Christine Joslin. Scout will soon retire. Diesel was also training with a new handler: Officer Tyler Larimer with the Fairbanks Police Department.

The bond between K9s and handlers was obvious, as the experienced K9s remained totally focused on their “partners,” awaiting direction. But they were also socialized and community members enjoyed petting them and asking questions about each dog. They learned that the K9s are extremely reliable, portable and worth every penny it takes to obtain them and train them.

“He saves lives,” said one K9 handler. “I can’t put a price on that.”

Reach columnist/community editor Kris Capps at kcapps@newsminer.com. Call her at the office 459-7546. Follow her on Twitter: @FDNMKris.

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Community editor and columnist Kris Capps is a longtime resident of Fairbanks and Denali Park. Contact her at kcapps@newsminer.com, in the office at 459-7546 or by cell at 322-6334. Follow her on Twitter: @FDNMKris.