Colchester, Vt. - They help locate someone who's lost and they work over time to sniff out drugs.
Any officer will tell you -a K9 - or police dog- is an integral part of the force.
On Sunday dozens of dogs and their owners joined together to help raise money to keep those four -legged officers safe.
The 12th annual Green Mountain Iron Dog Challenge raises money for the Vermont Police Canine Association. That money helps purchase extra equipment and training for k9's and their handlers in Vermont. And with 15 K9's killed while on duty so far this year in the U.S., officers say the fundraiser is even more important to help keep their partners safe.
“He and I have been together almost seven years,” said Corporal Wade LaBrecque, with the Burlington Police Department.
Officer LaBrecque and his partner Andre are members of the Burlington Police Department's K9 team.
“If we are in the car- especially if the lights go on and the siren goes on- then he knows its game time,” said LaBrecque.
LaBrecque says they've gone through extensive training together but with budget cuts most departments can only provide the minimum requirements. So that's where the Vermont Police Canine Association steps in.
“The departments will provide us with the basics, and the association kind of goes above and beyond that,” said Corporal David Dewey with the Colchester Police Department.
Dewey says each year the association holds fundraisers such as the Green Mountain Iron Dog Challenge.
For a small donation the event allows anyone and their dog to participate in the competition and run the obstacle course.
“Anything out in the real world that you could picture a suspect running over- a dog has to go over it- and therefore we have to go over it,” said Dewey.
With the money raised from events like this Dewey says the association is able to provide GPS tracking equipment for all K9 teams in Vermont.
“We also provide extra training, like first aid training, tactical training. We provide equipment such as tracking harnesses, flash lights for both the handlers and the dogs,” said Dewey.
LaBrecque says all that extra equipment and training helps keep k9's and their handlers safe.
“Usually when Andre comes out, nobody wants to mess with me- or him,” said LaBrecque.
Bullet proof and stab proof vest for the dogs cost about 12 hundred dollars each and with more than 40 K9 teams in the state- LaBrecque says that's an expense many departments can't afford.
But this year the group 'Vested Interests in K9's’ helped equip all K9's in Vermont with a vest.