Nonprofit helps support safety items for K-9 officers

Back the Blue has provided vests, harnesses, collars and more

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A group of Centennial residents is working to help purchase safety vests and equipment and provide for health needs for area K-9 officers.

Since the nonprofit formed, Back the Blue K-9 Force has helped provide equipment for K-9s at the Arapahoe County Sheriff's Office, the Greenwood Village Police Department and the Parker Police Department, according to a news release from Diane Lewis, one of the co-founders of the nonprofit group.

The nonprofit recently gave a donation of $20,525 to the Arapahoe County Sheriff's Office for the purchase of K-9 officers Mako, Nuke and Zero, the release said. The nonprofit's work in 2018 also resulted in finding an individual to pay for the purchase of K-9 Arrow and a business to pay for the purcase of K-9 Roman, the release said.

The three founders, Lewis, Jennifer Leggatt and Judy Anderson, all of whom live in Centennial, began their mission in March 2016, when they heard about ballistic vests for K-9s that were lighter weight and covered more of the dogs' bodies. According to the release, the new vests weigh between 5 and 8 pounds, compared to the old vests, which were 25 pounds.

The group contacted the Arapahoe County Sheriff's Office and learned that it did not have the new vests. A month later, the group had raised enough money for six vests — four for Arapahoe County and two for Greenwood Village, the release said.

The founders decided to form a registered nonprofit so they could countinue raising money for items that would ensure the safety and well-beoing of the K-9s, the release said.

Since its inception, the Back the Blue group has funded harnesses, muzzles, breakaway muzzles, fur saver collars, K-9 Trauma Kits, Narcan and many othr items the K-9 handlers ask for, the release said.

Money raised also has helped pay for four gastropexy surgeries, and three more are expected soon. According to Lewis, gastropexy surgeries are procedures that staple the dogs stomachs so they don't twist. Twisted gut injuries in dogs are almost always fatal, Lewis said. When the K-9's stomach twists, there are often no symptoms until it is too late.

Back the Blue has funded the surgery for two Arapahoe County Sheriff's Office K-9s and the two K-9's at Greenwood Village. In addition, it will fund the surgies for Nuke, Mako and Zero when they get a bit older, Lewis said.

Some of the group's upcoming fundraising plans include an event at Topgolf on Oct. 27, the sale of discount cards, similar to what some high school students sell, and the sale of stuffed K-9s at its events. The group also will be at the Firearms Festival on Sept. 14 at Centennial Gun Club, 11800 E. Peakview Ave., Centennial.

Sponsorships are needed for the Topgolf event. For information and to set up a sponsorship, contact btbk9force@gmail.com.

Learn more about the group at www.backthebluek-9force.com or on Facebook at Back The Blue K-9 Force.

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