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K9 Viva of the Erie County Sheriff's Office wears a protective vest memorialized to Chet Krupczyk, who served the county for 35 years.
K9 Viva of the Erie County Sheriff's Office wears a protective vest memorialized to Chet Krupczyk, who served the county for 35 years.

Erie County Sheriff's Office: K9 Viva receives donated body armor

Sat, Nov 2nd 2019 07:00 am

Vest will honor one of ECSO’s heroes

Erie County Sheriff Timothy B. Howard announced this week that Erie County Sheriff’s Office K9 Viva has received a bullet and stab protective vest thanks to a charitable donation from nonprofit organization Vested Interest in K9s Inc.

The vest was sponsored by Ellen Krupczyk of Depew, and embroidered with the sentiment “In memory of Chet Krupczyk DS-II STFO Aviation Div.”

Ellen, the granddaughter of Chet, organized a drive to raise funds needed to purchase the armor for Viva. This gift is in memory of her grandfather, who served the people of Erie County for 35-years.

Chet served the sheriff’s office as a patrol deputy and then as a detective. During his career with the agency, he also served on the marine and aviation units where his commitment to service and his heroism was evident. Chet may most be remembered for his heroics in saving three individuals while assigned to the Aviation Unit. He leaped from the helicopter, piloted by Capt. Kevin Caffery, onto a frozen Lake Erie to save two boys stranded on the ice. One boy was unconscious, while the second fell into an ice volcano. Chet dove into the hole and dragged the boy from the chasm. These two teamed up again to pull a Canadian man from the brink of Niagara Falls.

Howard said, “Chet will always be remembered by this agency for his professionalism and heroism, but now he is memorialized on the vest of one of our K9s. Chet was a lifesaver, and it is only fitting this generous gift from his granddaughter and Vested Interest in K9s, provides life-saving protection to the next generation of public servants – explosive detection K9 Viva.”

Vested Interest in K9s Inc. is a 501c(3) charity located in East Taunton, Massachusetts, whose mission is to provide bullet and stab protective vests and other assistance to dogs of law enforcement and related agencies throughout the United States. The nonprofit was established in 2009 to assist law enforcement agencies with this potentially lifesaving body armor for their four-legged K9 officers. Since its inception, Vested Interest in K9s Inc. provided over 3,500 U.S. made, custom-fitted protective vests in 50 states, through private and corporate donations, at a value of $6.9 million.

The program is open to dogs actively employed in the U.S. with law enforcement or related agencies who are certified and at least 20 months of age. New K9 graduates, as well as K9s with expired vests, are eligible to participate.

The donation to provide one protective vest for a law enforcement K9 is $950. Each vest has a value between $1,744 to $2,283, and a five-year warranty and an average weight of 4-5 pounds. There are an estimated 30,000 law enforcement K9s throughout the U.S.

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