K9 protective vest fundraiser held at local business

FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) The 8th annual Alaska K9 Center's Community Fundraiser is taking place this weekend. Their goal is to raise money to buy vests for K9s serving in law enforcement.

Photo Courtesy KTVF/Andrew Hawkins

The center is a dog training facility in North Pole. For the past 7 years, their annual fundraiser has been collecting money to vest K9s serving in law enforcement. The owner of the business is Beth Frank. The non-profit organization Vested Interest in K9s reached out to Frank about 8 years ago to ask her to be a part of their organization. According to their website, the organization's mission is to "...provide bullet and stab protective vests and other assistance to dogs of Law Enforcement and related agencies throughout the country.”

Frank became an advocate for the group. She says it’s very important that dogs have this protection. “It’s not always feasible to have the dog in a vest," began Frank. "It’s nothing that should happen. I want to make sure they have them if they need them.”

At the event there are vendors, a silent auction and food. Law enforcement is also training new K9s onsite, which is unique to this year.

"The State Trooper is having their K9 academy this year," said Frank. "It just happened to fall in Fairbanks in September. When I reached out to Sergeant Zeisel and asked if I could have a dog on standby here, he said he could do one better."

Three new AST dogs were onsite as part of K9 Academy — Xavi, Blitz and Biko. Biko will be serving in the Fairbanks area after being trained and certified.

Another AST K9, Scout, was onsite as well. Scout has been certified and has served in the Fairbanks area in the past. When Blitz is certified, Scout will retire.

According to AST Officer Frederick, this is the first of ten weeks of training. There are three other dogs in the academy. Although Diesel from the Fairbanks Police Department has already been certified, that K9 is going through the academy again with a new handler. Diesel was also at the Alaska K9 Center. Officer Frederick says the other two other dogs are from the North Slope Borough and the Cordova Police Department.

Frank says the fundraiser helps her give back to law enforcement as well as the dogs.

“I’m actually very passionate about our law enforcement," said Frank. "I think in the past they’ve kind of got a raw deal. I hold the utmost respect for them. The K9s are a part of my passion, I love dogs. What they contribute to a community and the protection that they give to our officers can’t be measured.”

The vests costs $950 each. For every 15 vests the center orders, they are given a free one. AST, Wasilla, Nome, Kotzebue, as well as other departments including some out of state have all received vests from the Alaska K9 Center.

“I always vest the dogs in Alaska first," said Frank. "I have put at least 28 vests on dogs and helped vest many others.”

Frank says she plans on continuing this fundraiser to support K9 units. “I can’t imagine not doing it," said Frank. "I will do it absolutely as long as I can.”

The Fundraiser continues on Sunday starting at 11 am and ending at 6 pm. Frank says there will be a car show sponsored by Gene's Chrysler.

The AST K9 units will back for more training as part of the K9 Academy.

Those who want to support vesting K9s but are unable to attend the fundraiser can reach out to the Alaska K9 Center. They take donations year around.