COLUMBUS (WCMH) – The first ever therapy dog at the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office is celebrating one year on the force.
NBC4 introduced you to Mattis K9 last April when he was just a puppy. Over the last year he’s been doing important work, helping to comfort young victims of crime and even aiding patients with physical therapy.
“It just kind of takes my mind off that actual therapy itself,” said patient Justin Lennon.
Justin, 20, is doing physical therapy at The Ohio State Wexner Medical Center’s Outpatient Rehab.
He has a spinal cord injury caused by a trampoline accident that happened last June. He woke up paralyzed from the neck down.
“My life has been kind of been put on slow motion right now, but hopefully I’ll be pressing play pretty soon,” he said.
Justin has made a lot of progress and on Thursday Mattis K9 was there to help him through his therapy. They played play fetch, shake and Justin stretched to feed him treats. Justin hopes to come back to OSU next fall to continue studying chemical engineering.
“When my therapist said there was a dog coming I didn’t know I’d be spending so much time with him,” he said. “It’s really been great, a great experience.”
Justin’s therapist Alicia Almond said Mattis has come to visit brain injury patients, as well as people in their multiple sclerosis group.
“It just kind of changes the tune of the therapy,” she said. “Even when the patients are tired, I feel like they want to push just a little bit more.”
But, besides hospital visits, Mattis is also helping to fight crime. He comforts child victims while working with the FBI, Sheriff’s Office and other agencies.
“We’ve also worked a couple trials in which Mattis helped young victims be able to tell their story, which is always a good thing,” said his handler Deputy Darrah Metz.
Mattis is also a regular at several schools across Franklin County where he helps Deputy Metz teach kids about peer pressure and the dangers of drugs and alcohol.
“That was the goal from day one was to make people happy and we’re accomplishing that,” she said.
Deputy Metz believes Mattis is also helping to strengthen law enforcement’s relationship with the community.
“We just want people to know that if they need us, we’ll be there,” she said.