COLUMBUS, OH (WCMH) – The Columbus Division of Police is getting some help from some four-legged friends. The five dog, five handler team is the Therapy Dog Unit. It’s brand new to Columbus Police.
“We are embracing our new mission and core values. One that emphasizes service, community, and compassion. This new program is a significant step forward in serving those who are experiencing symptoms of exposure to trauma,” said Chief Thomas Quinlan. This is an innovative way to serve both the public and police professionals alike.”
According to police, the dogs will be used in a variety of ways including supporting mental health within the force and helping with investigations. The idea is the dogs will make witnesses or victims more comfortable when it comes to talking about traumatic experiences they may have been through.
“I think this method of policing is going to revolutionize the way that we deliver support to the community,” said Cmdr. Rhonda Grizzell.
The unit’s creation was made possible by several different donations. Each dog has its own handler. Sgt. Chantay Boxill is Andy’s handler.
“He’s just a great dog, he has a great personality, he’s a lover,” she said about the golden retriever.
Another golden retriever in the unit is Lenny. He’s also an incredibly loving dog, also known as Lenny the Lover. His handler is Officer Jim Mathys.
“There’s other K-9’s out there that are made to catch felons or whatever. This dog’s here to love you and hug on you, he’s here for the victims and the first responders,” said Mathys.
The dogs have a couple more weeks of training. Their graduation is on August 30 and Chief Quinlan says they will be on the job shortly after that.