DOVER — The newest deputy becoming a member of the ranks of Strafford County Sheriff’s Division continues to be in coaching, however is already making historical past.
Cara, a 13-week-old black labrador pet, is the division’s first consolation canine.
Police consolation canine are much like remedy canine, serving to consolation folks coping with any form of nerve-racking state of affairs, like courtroom testimony, forensic interviews, home violence conditions, psychological well being conditions, or help within the colleges.
Cara is being skilled and licensed by the nonprofit Hero Pups to make sure the canine is able to report for responsibility full-time upon turning 10 months outdated. Cara ‘s identify her, which is Irish for pal, was chosen by a group ballot taken by the division.
Deputy Katie O’Brien has been assigned as Cara’s handler. O’Brien is a 12-year veteran of regulation enforcement. Whereas she has worn many hats over time, she stated she appears to be like ahead to spearheading the county’s first police consolation canine program.
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“The presence of a canine can transcend so many issues, from variations in cultures, to various conditions or diploma of concern,” O’Brien stated. “Folks can see a canine like Cara and immediately really feel a relaxed come over them as they pet her. Cara shall be utilized to supply consolation and to assist folks chill out when they could be coping with a nerve-racking state of affairs or what might be the worst day of their lives.”
O’Brien describes Cara as her “new accomplice.” As soon as fully-trained, Cara will accompany O’Brien wherever she goes on responsibility and can dwell with O’Brien.
A certified consolation canine
Hero Pups founder Laura Barker stated Cara and her 9 littermates have been born at Hero Pups, and their mom was a rescue canine. At first, the then unnamed pet was given a purple collar and nicknamed “Purple” till the division named her.
“She is a good canine general, and whereas she’s just a little opinionated, we’re engaged on that,” Barker stated with amusing. “It isn’t a foul factor, although. We would like our canine to have their very own particular person personalities. She’s She’s mild and sort, with an enormous persona.”
Barker stated coaching police consolation canine like Cara is barely a small a part of the companies they provide. A lot of their work is centered on connecting help canine with veterans and first responders experiencing bodily or psychological well being challenges.
Barker stated that when figuring out which puppies will make good consolation canine, there’s a number of standards the canine has to satisfy.
“A police consolation canine …. doesn’t reply to nerve-racking conditions,” Barker stated. “These are canine that aren’t nice service canine candidates as a result of they love and deal with everyone, whereas a service canine must focus their consideration on the well-being of 1 particular person. These are like remedy canine on steroids, and their work is equally as difficult in several methods.”
A day within the lifetime of the county’s first consolation canine
Cara is already out within the discipline on a part-time foundation. When she’s not working her tail off in coaching, she’s being launched to the group by visits to native occasions and colleges.
“It is necessary that we introduce her to the group since you by no means know once you would possibly need assistance,” O’Brien stated. “These meet-and-greets hopefully construct a constructive basis, particularly with younger kids. That means, in the event that they discover themselves needing Cara’s consolation, a sure diploma of belief and luxury is already established.”
Hero Pups spends months coaching their canine to arrange them for no matter job is ready for them. For Cara, meaning studying how one can take care of tense, loud and nerve-racking conditions, whether or not that’s serving to calm a toddler down as they offer testimony or speeding to the help of a sufferer’s household on the scene of a tragedy.
“Here is one instance of a consolation canine in motion. We had a canine that was introduced down a riverbank close to Harmony to consolation a grieving household as they waited for his or her son’s physique to be pulled out of the river,” Barker stated. “There have been helicopters overhead, boats within the water, it was mad chaos, however that canine got here in and offered some aid and distraction for that household.”
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O’Brien stated as a result of the sheriff’s workplace is within the Strafford County constructing in Dover, alongside quite a few court docket rooms and the Strafford County Baby Advocacy Middle, it is a chance to accomplice with totally different companies. The Strafford County Baby Advocacy Middle, for instance, is the place forensic interviews of youngsters and different victims of sexual assaults are performed.
“There’s any variety of conditions the place having an onsite consolation canine might be helpful,” O’Brien stated.
O’Brien stated probably the most rewarding a part of this consolation canine program shall be seeing the distinction Cara could make by a lot of these interactions.
“Sadly, within the 12 years I have been doing this, I’ve sat by means too many youngster forensic interviews,” O’Brien stated. “The middle could be very excited in regards to the prospect of getting a canine are available in that may assist these children get by the interview. If you see these kids, who’ve been by probably the most horrific occasions of their lives, they’re simply scared and intimidated. They’re requested to confide in strangers in a room they’ve by no means been in. Having Cara go in there to present them just a little little bit of consolation with one thing else to focus on whereas they’re answering questions — that may make an enormous distinction.”