By Lauren DiSpirito

LOVELAND, Colo. (CBS4) – K-9 officer Monte, an officer with the Loveland Police Department, is entered in a contest through Keeping K-9s in Kevlar in the hopes of winning a vest that could save his life.

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Currently Monte is the only Loveland Police Department K-9 officer that does not have body armor.

K-9 Monte (credit: Loveland Police Department)

K-9 Monte (credit: Loveland Police Department)

“We have been able to outfit three of the four dogs with Kevlar vests using donations for two and department funds for the other,” Loveland Police Sgt. Mike Halloran said in a statement.

But Monte still needs one. The 3-year-old Belgian Malinois has been with the Loveland police department since June 2014. Monte graduated from training in March and is certified in patrol and narcotics, says his handler, Officer Stephen Marchio. He’s helped officers recover large amounts of drugs on the street and has tracked down suspects who were attempting to hide.

“It is vital that they have the same safety equipment we do,” Marchio says, “It’d be a relief to just to know that he has that added layer of protection.”

Loveland K-9 officer Monte (credit: CBS)

Loveland K-9 officer Monte (credit: CBS)

Monte lives with Marchio, his wife and three children. Officers describe him as high-energy and strong– the kind of dog perfect for police work. Marchio says the K-9 is also loving and has bonded with his kids.

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“They become a huge part of our family,” Marchio said of K-9s.

The winner of the contest is determined by the number of “Likes” their photo receives on Facebook from now through Feb. 14.

The Top 5 vote-receiving dogs win a donated vest.

The name of a fallen officer comes embroidered on the vest. If Monte wins, the department says it would like to honor Colorado State Patrol Trooper Jaimie Jursevics.

Jaimie Jursevics (credit: Colorado State Patrol)

Jaimie Jursevics (credit: Colorado State Patrol)

Jursevics was killed by an alleged drunk driver on Nov. 15, 2015, while assisting another trooper at an accident scene in Castle Rock. Marchio chose Jursevics in part because they have daughters who are similar in age, and he wants to honor the sacrifices made by her and her family.

“Every time we see it, she’ll be remembered as a hero,” Marchio says, “She went to work that day not knowing what may happen. She sacrificed her life.”

In 2015, the department’s K-9 Unit had 343 deployments. Since finishing his training, K-9 Monte and handler Officer Stephen Marchio have completed more than 170 deployments, which resulted in a significant number of narcotics detections and located fugitives.

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Lauren DiSpirito is CBS4’s Northern Newsroom reporter. Follow her on Twitter @CBS4Lauren. Share your story ideas with her here.