EL DORADO — K-9 Officer Haxo of Butler Community College’s Department of Public Safety has received a bullet and stab protective vest, thanks to a charitable donation from nonprofit organization Vested Interest in K9s Inc.
Haxo’s vest was embroidered with the sentiment "In memory of K9 Gabo, Jonesboro, AR EOW 1/16/20."
Haxo is Butler’s first K-9 officer.
Lt. Tim Harder spent two months earlier this year training Haxo at American K-9 Interdiction in Virginia. He lived in a dorm and spent his days focused on turning Haxo into a narcotics detection officer, finishing the intensive program in June. Haxo is now trained on six types of drugs.
The German shepherd joined Butler’s police squad in April 2020 and has spent his time learning the job as he patrols Butler’s grounds with Harder.
When Harder’s remaining GI Bill benefits were about to expire, he found a way to donate $18,700 to Butler Community College to get a new partner.
Harder served in the U.S. Marines from 2005 to 2009. He’d already earned an associate degree and had "four months and some days remaining" to use his GI Bill. He did some research about K-9 officers and put together a plan.
"I think it’s absolutely incredible," said Tom Borrego, executive director of the Butler Community College Foundation. "To think of the school as a part of his philanthropic giving is extremely nice. To give something back to the (college) is extraordinarily generous of him."
In September the donation from Vested Interest for safety gear was announced. Haxo is one of more than 4,100 dogs to receive body armor from Vested Interest.
"The donation from Vested Interest in K9s to a small department like ours at Butler Community College, will ensure that our K-9 Haxo is safe to do his work," said Butler Police Chief Jason Kenney. "The help and support that Vested Interest in K9s provides for law enforcement across the country is truly remarkable."
Since its inception in 2009, Vested Interest in K9s Inc. has provided over 4,101 vests to K-9s in all 50 states at a value of $6.9 million, made possible by both private and corporate donations.
The program is open to U.S. dogs that are at least 20 months old and actively employed and certified with law enforcement or related agencies. K-9s with expired vests are also eligible to participate. There are an estimated 30,000 law enforcement K-9 officers throughout the United States.