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Canadian vests protecting service dogs worldwide [Photo Gallery]

International police and security agencies around the world use Canadian-made K9 tactical vests


May 10, 2011
by Matt Powell

WINNIPEG—Jim Slater realized something needed to change after a violent prison riot about 15 years ago.

Slater and his police service dog, Olaf, were the first to enter the riot with SWAT officers. But Olaf was the only one there that day without sufficient protection.

“All the officers were heavily protected that day but the dogs weren’t at all,” says Slater. “I realized protecting these animals was incredibly important too.”

So, in 1998 Slater founded K9 Storm Inc., Canada’s first manufacturer and distributor of protective equipment for police service dogs. The Winnipeg-based company sells its custom Kevlar dog-sized vests to some of Canada’s leading police and security agencies including the Canadian Coast Guard and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP).

The company also manufactures vests for police service dogs at 15 agencies around the world, such as the Rotterdam Hodenbrigade and Swiss Army. Materials are sourced from Canadian suppliers and the vests are fabricated at its Winnipeg facility.

“We don’t believe in outsourcing anything,” he says. “To secure contracts, we need to be in complete control of what we make down to the number of stitches and the quality of each design. Every vest is slightly different and needs to meet specific mission requirements.”

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Slater says the company uses a customized sizing template to ensure each vest fits each service dog perfectly to maximize performance.

Its Aerial Insertion Vest integrates a patented load-bearing harness system rated to 2,500 pounds. The harness system allows service dogs to rappel from helicopters, into holes and underground tunnels and to parachute.

These new vests can include tools like infra-red tracking “Viper-lights” that can be seen up to five miles away in the dark and are waterproof down to 300 feet.

The New York Times reports the US Navy SEALs bought four waterproof tactical vests in a deal worth $86,000 last year. The vests included infrared and night-vision cameras so handlers could see what the dogs were doing up to 1,000 feet away.

Multiple reports suggest dogs used by the SEAL team in the raid of Osama Bin Laden’s compound were outfitted in these tactical vests.

Also, Discovery News recently reported Navy SEAL Mike Forsythe and his dog Cara broke the record for man/canine parachute jumping after falling from 30,100 feet. Cara was wearing a K9 Storm vest during the jump.

Photos: K9 Storm Inc.