These Police Comfort Dogs Help Crime Victims and Officers

For years now, comfort dogs have been working their calming magic on grief-stricken communities after tragedies like the mass shooting of Sandy Hook schoolchildren and the Boston Marathon bombing.

Police Comfort Dogs

In a relatively new trend, police departments around the country are beginning to employ comfort dogs to help soothe stressed-out crime victims as well as police officers. Among these pioneering dogs are Brinkley, Clarence and Donut, and Sgt. Fuzz.

Brinkley

“She will be a dog that you can come up and hug and that you can interact with a lot,” Officer Niki Diehl, with the Sterling Police Department in Illinois, told WLS in March 2017.

Diehl was referring to Brinkley, then a two-month-old yellow Labrador retriever in training to become the department’s first comfort dog. Brinkley works at the police station to help de-stress crime victims and officers. “Our thoughts are to bring her in and distract from the negative event that just happened,” Diehl told KWQC.

When she’s not at the station, Brinkley – whose Facebook page has over 2,000 followers — visits the community during difficult times, makes appearances at area schools and serves as a goodwill ambassador.

Diehl hopes Brinkley will inspire more police departments to get comfort dogs of their own. She told KWQC she’s looking forward to getting a phone call “that says hey, how did this work for you and we’re thinking about doing this.”

Clarence and Donut

In June, the Greenfield Police Department in Massachusetts started its first-ever comfort dog program. Its initial participants are two Saint Bernards, Clarence and Donut.

“The dogs are going to be able to help us calm people down so we can refocus their energies on helping them recover from their tragedy,” Lt. William Gordon told WWLP.

Seven-year-old Clarence has already worked as a comfort dog after tragedies around the country including the Las Vegas mass shooting last year. He’ll serve as a mentor for Donut, who’s only about five months old (and growing fast, based on the photos on his Facebook page).

According to the Greenfield, Mass Police Department Facebook page, Clarence and Donut will “assist our Crisis Intervention Team (C.I.T.) officers with defusing mental health emergencies, help lower anxiety and fear at the time of tragic or crisis incidents, assist first responders defuse and debrief after a crisis, and may be available for meet and greets at large-scale events.”

The police department said it chose to use Saint Bernards as comfort dogs because of the breed’s disposition and calmness. “The Saint Bernard was originally bred to save people trapped in an avalanche of snow,” it said on its Facebook page. “We now believe they are perfect to save people trapped in an avalanche of anxiety.”

Sgt. Fuzz

Whenever St. Paul, Minn. Police Chief Todd Axtell brought his dog Stella to work with him, he couldn’t help but notice the positive impact the silver Lab had on his fellow employees.

Earlier this year, Stella was the inspiration for the department to bring in young Sgt. Fuzz, a German Shepherd mix, to become its first comfort dog. Sgt. Fuzz belongs to Kathryn Smith, a volunteer St. Paul police reserve officer who adopted him from the rescue organization Mending Spirits in Mankato.

“Officers see horrific things and if they can take 30 seconds, a minute to look at one of nature’s wonderful gifts, just kind of rest their mind, I think that stress reliever is important in any professional, high-stress position,” Senior Cmdr. John Lozoya, head of the department’s community engagement unit, told the Twin Cities Pioneer Press.

When he’s a year old, Sgt. Fuzz will be trained to become a certified  dog, helping to comfort people in hospitals, retirement homes and stressful situations.

Photo credit: Brinkley Sterling/Facebook

109 comments

Dave f
Past Member 26 days ago

Great to see the wee dogs helping out.

SEND
Olivia M
Olivia M2 months ago

thanks

SEND
Paula L
Paula Lambert2 months ago

Thanks for sharing

SEND
Paulo Reeson
Paulo R2 months ago

dogs are just wonderful. ty

SEND
Angela K
Angela K2 months ago

Thanks for sharing

SEND
Jim Ven
Jim V2 months ago

Thanks for sharing.

SEND
Jim V
Jim V2 months ago

Thanks for sharing.

SEND
Jerome S
Jerome S2 months ago

thank you.

SEND
Jerome S
Jerome S2 months ago

thank you.

SEND
joan silaco
joan silaco2 months ago

love it!

SEND