ABILENE, Texas -

Abilene police gave thanks Wednesday to those who pitched in to buy four new ballistic dog vests for its K-9 unit.

The near $1,000 vests are used to protect the dogs during dangerous encounters or violent arrest situations.

H-E-B and the Abilene Citizens Police Academy Class of 21 have contributed greatly to the effort, a police spokesman said Wednesday.

Police held a meeting describing what has been accomplished at the entrance of H-E-B on Wednesday morning.

"This dog, on a given day, could save someone's child, " said Joshua New, a K-9 handling officer. "They could bring a criminal to justice that has committed a felony in this town, so to afford them the same protection we give our officers, I think that's just the right thing to do."

The new vests will replace present vests that are more than 10 years old and did not properly fit some of the dogs.

K-9 unit dogs are custom fitted in their new vests.