Grieving family, Topeka non-profit donate vests to K9 officers

13 NEWS at 10 p.m.
Published: Feb. 7, 2022 at 10:30 PM CST
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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - A Topeka non-profit organization partnered with a local family to donate protective vests to K9 officers in honor of the families’ lost loved ones.

Every day K9 officers are sent into the field without a protective vest, but a new local nonprofit is looking to change that.

“We found out how many dogs that are in our community and in our area that aren’t protected, so we started this organization to do some good,” said Emily Fawcett, founder of Friends of the K9 Vest Midwest.

Friends of the K-9 Vest Midwest was founded by Emily Fawcett last May and she says they have big plans for the future.

“We’ve got a bunch of dogs in Junction City that we’re getting ready to vest and we’ve got more dogs in Lawrence, Kansas that we’re ready to put vests on,” said Fawvett. “We have actually been invited to El Paso, Texas to take care of some border patrol dogs, so we’re really excited because we’re doing a lot in our first year.”

This past weekend the organization made their first official vest dedication.

It was a huge accomplishment for the organization, but for one Topeka family, the vests carry much more meaning.

“The one for Travis is my son, he was killed in a UTV accident and five weeks later my sister was shot by a stray bullet here in Topeka,” said Dawn Belville. “The other one is for her so we’ve got one for the highway patrol and one for the sheriff’s department for my sister”

The family held fundraisers to purchase both vests for the dogs, along with special patches that carry on their loved ones legacies.

“They really just wanted to honor their loved ones and we searched for the right ones to kind of represent their loved ones memory,” said Fawcett. “Laika is the first female and she’s feisty and she’s right here in Topeka and then K9 Mando goes to all of the K-State games and is often in Manhattan so another wonderful choice.”

Dawn Belville was moved to tears knowing that her son and sister will live on through Laika and Mando.

“They were both giving people anytime you asked for something, they were always there, and they were the first ones to be their,” said Belville. “You know my sister would cook food for the neighborhood whether she had food or not and had a big garden and was always donating tomatoes and cucumbers to other people.” “My son was the first one you called if you needed something worked on, he was the first one there, its just kind of nice to continue the giving in their honor.”

Belville says her family plans to make at least one vest donation to K9 officers each year.

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