BOAZ, Ala. -- A donated therapy dog is aimed to help both the Boaz Police officers and the community.
There are things you usually see at a police department, and these days at the Boaz Police Department, there's a tiny addition that you don't usually see: a white fluffy puppy. "She is going to be a therapy dog," explained Deputy Chief Rusty Rowan, "She's here during the day. She goes home with me right now. The plan is to eventually have her at the department 24/7."
The puppy goes from one officer to another when they stop back at the department in between calls and duties. "She's typically very laid back," Rowan said.
Chief Josh Gaskin and Rowan put a heavy emphasis on getting out in the community in different ways; whether it be handing out popsicles to kids on a hot day, or greeting elementary school students on their first day of school. Someone from Albertville donated the dog to help further those efforts. "She said she just wanted to be a part of the community policing action and she thought this was a good way to do that." Rowan said.
The puppy will work in two ways: inside the department and out in the city. "We like to put on the persona of being tough and being untouchable as far as emotions and things getting to us, but the reality is the things that we deal with during the day we have to take home sometimes in the evening. This gives us a break from that," Rowan explained.
"She'll also be available in the community when we have situations maybe that involve children, whether it be car accidents, or any type of criminal activity when we have to deal with children," Rowan added. They've also been in touch with the schools, nursing homes, the hospital, and funeral homes in the area to see if the dog can be of help in those places.
"The best we can tell, with the information that we've been able to gather, she's the first therapy dog in the state of Alabama whose sole purpose is to provide that companionship and that partnership in therapy with officers and people in the community alike," Rowan said.
"We’ve been working closely with Dr. Kimberly Miller out of Colorado, who has been giving us advice on what we need to do with her, pointing in some other directions to agencies throughout the United States outside of Alabama, who have these kinds of dogs and use this program in their department.”
The puppy doesn't have a name yet. So, the two elementary schools in Boaz are having a competition where each class will pick a name to submit, and the department will choose one. The winning class will get a pizza party with the officers and with the puppy.