Two local 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations, the NAGI Foundation and Together Saving Paws, recently teamed up to provide ballistic vests for the Salt River Police Department.
NAGI founder Sheila Iyengar often partners with the Community to donate goods and provide services to pet owners throughout the year. One of the missions of Together Saving Paws founder Kim Slaughter is to keep police K9s safe by purchasing bulletproof vests for them.
SRPD K9 Sgt. Christopher Morin said that the department initially met with Iyengar and Slaughter in June 2023, when Iyengar told them about her foundation. At the meeting, it was brought up that the department could use ballistic vests for a couple of the K9s.
“Kim, without hesitation, said she wanted to cover the costs for as many ballistic vests as we needed,” said Morin.
“The NAGI Foundation has provided a service to the Community for a very long time. We are very grateful that the NAGI Foundation found another way to provide for the Community, using their vast experience and contacts to provide the police department with great equipment,” Morin said.
Morin was told about the vests by SRPD Commander Anthony Sandoval. The vests offer both ballistic and sharp-object protection to the K9s’ vital organs in the most dangerous police situations.
The vests, called StreetFighter vests, are from a tactical gear company based in Canada called LOF Defence Systems. Since Together Saving Paws is a nonprofit, it was able to purchase the vests at a fraction of the price.
The donation caught the attention of local news stations AZ Family, ABC15 and Fox 10, who came out to capture a demonstration of the equipment with the SRPD.
“We decided to meet at the park on 86th and Thomas. It is a quiet park, so that K9s could demonstrate some of their obedience and play without any disturbance from other people or dogs,” said Iyengar. “To see all of us working together really made the story special.”
Slaughter said that Together Saving Paws currently has 9 K9s on a waitlist across the country for the vests.
Besides the usual monthly animal health clinics in the Community, Iyengar said that NAGI is in the process of working with tribal leadership to develop the “first of its kind (on tribal land)” Animal Enrichment and Community Center.