Some of the hardest working members of a police force do not get paid. But they do receive great care from fellow officers and get special treatment from a team of 7Everyday Heroes.
Jennifer Leggatt, Diane Lewis, Judy Anderson provide a critical layer of support and safety for area K-9 units. They have a nonprofit called Back The Blue K-9 Force.
"We raise funds for Kevlar vests for K-9s, and trauma kits for K-9s," Leggatt said.
They even help when a K-9 passes away.
"We help provide the ceremony, and a plaque and memorable things of the dog," Anderson said. "So, it's very meaningful to us."
The women saw a need in the southern metro area and decided to form the nonprofit.
"We actually just met on Next Door with this cause two years ago and we just got together," Leggatt said.
Back The Blue K-9 Force started by helping the Arapahoe County Sheriff's Office in 2016. Since then, it has added two more police departments.
"We have purchased two K-9s and six Kevlar vests for the K-9s," Leggatt said.
"These dogs save so many lives every year," said Deputy Kelly Draper with the Arapahoe County Sheriff's Office.
While they are an important part of the department, K-9s do not always get all the funding they require.
"Everyone has budget issues and every department in the sheriff's office is looking for new equipment and new training," Draper said.
This is where Back The Blue K-9 Force steps in.
"We do fundraising events at restaurants," Anderson said. "We've stood out front of Walgreens with signs. We do whatever it takes. It's amazing — so many people want to do something. They just need the avenue to do it. And all the donations we receive, every single penny goes toward the dogs or the handlers."
A K-9 can cost between $8,000 and $12,000 and the protective Kevlar vests can cost about $2,000.
"And they don't last forever," Draper said. "So, every four or five years, depending on the manufacturer, the warranty on the vest expires, and then we'll need to replace them again."
It's a lot of work keeping the K-9 officers ready for action, but the Lewis said they get so much more back, and called the organization very rewarding.
Back The Blue K-9 Force's next fundraising event is on Wednesday. It is called Heroes with Paws and will be held at Kuni Lexus at 5150 South Quebec in Greenwood Village from 6-8 p.m.
To Learn more about Back The Blue K-9 Force, visit to the group's Facebook page here.
Mitch Jelniker anchors Denver7 in the mornings from 4:30-7 a.m. He also features a different 7Everyday Hero each week on Denver7. Follow Mitch on Facebook here and Twitter here. Nominate a 7Everyday Hero here.