BENTONVILLE, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — A group of fifth graders is helping make sure all Bella Vista Police Department officers have bulletproof vests, even the ones with four legs.

One of K9 officer Rip’s latest assignments: meeting the fifth graders at Old High Middle.

“I think that he’s super cute and what impresses me is that he can go to a cute little dog and then to a dog that protects people,” student Hayden Deegan said.

Officer Michael Jaro showed Deegan and her classmates how important Rip can be.

“He’s an integral part of my life. We’re with each other 24 hours a day, seven days a week,” he said.

Rip is highly trained in drug sniffing, apprehension and even trailing.

“He’ll put his life on the line for me and I’ll do the same for him so I feel he deserves all the protection he can get,” Ofc. Jaro said.

But the kids noticed Rip was missing something important. Their teacher Julie Turner turned it into their next class project.

“What we’re doing is called a PBL. It stands for problem-based learning. And so I just brought to them this problem. We’ve got a K9 dog that needs to be protected. What are we going to do?” Turner said.

The answer: A $3,000 bullet and stabproof vest., and the kids would raise the money themselves.

“They risk their lives for us and the least that we can do is provide them with something that’ll help them stay protected,” Deegan said.

Deegan has experience making money. She has her own dog treat business called Pawstry. So she got the fundraising started.

“We just asked for donations. If they had a dollar donation, we would give them a bag,” she said.

The whole class jumped in, writing businesses, asking the community for donations and making buttons to thank the donors.

“I’m immensely proud. I’m immensely proud of my kids,” Turner said.

So far, the class has raised almost $700 for Rip’s new vest.

“Sometimes it’s better to give other people things than keep it for yourself,” Deegan said.

And they will not stop until the mission is complete.

To donate, make checks payable to “OHMS – Knights 4 K9s.” If you donate $5 or more and leave your address, the class will send you an “I donated” button.