VANCOUVER, Wash. -- The Clark County Sheriff's Office K-9 Unit is safer than ever, thanks to a generous donation from a local animal lover.

The unit’s four dogs have brand new ballistic vests, which they can wear during their entire shift. They keep the dogs cooler and more comfortable, which deputies believe is important.

“We use these dogs every night and we put them in situations we're not going to put ourselves in,” said Deputy Seth Brannan, who works with German shepherd, Ringo.

“He actually loves his vest. He stands in the door of the car and waits for me to put it on," Brannan said.

According to Brannan, the dogs’ old vests were heavy, cumbersome and so poorly ventilated that the dogs wouldn't always wear them. That's not good, considering what vests are for.

“It could save the dog’s life,” said Brannan.

It's the reason Dean Yankee stepped up to help. Yankee, a former Clark County corrections officer and animal lover, approached the county last fall and said he wanted to do something special for the dogs.

“He said, ‘Hey, I'll just buy all four a vest’ to the tune of $5,500,” said Sgt. Dave Nelson. “I was shocked, but I wasn't, knowing Dean's generosity and his love of animals.”

Just weeks after delivering the dogs' new vests, Yankee passed away.

“This is kind of our reaching out to Dean, if he's watching to say ‘thank you,’” said Nelson.

Nelson said the dogs show their appreciation each day, just by wearing the vests.

“When they're on duty, they have the vests on. Tt covers the lungs the heart," he said.

Brannan said he’s grateful that the dogs are better equipped to protect and serve alongside them.

“It's hard to put into words how much you care for [the dogs],” he said.