SHERIFF’S OFFICE TRAINING THERAPY K9.
Erie County Sheriff Timothy B. Howard announces his office is adding a Therapy K9 to the agency’s growing unit. Loki (not the same canine as explosive detection K9 Loki) is a 15-month-old Chocolate Lab owned by Deputy Gordon, and the team will attend the Law Enforcement and Multidiscipline Crime Against Children Investigative Therapy Dog Course in Cocoa, Florida at the end of February.
The team will leave February 24, and spend a week training in a specialized curriculum to become a certified therapy dog. The handler and canine will participate in several training topics including basic and advanced obedience techniques, behavioral observation training, vehicle ops, investigative and interview techniques, as well as learn best practices from other therapy K9 programs.
Although the course is designed to help law enforcement officers and victims during investigations of crimes against children, the Erie County Sheriff’s Office will also deploy Deputy Gordon and Loki at school violence incidents, fatal accidents, and other traumatic incidents where the team can bring comfort to victims and first responders.
“When Deputy Gordon presented the idea,” Sheriff Howard explains. “I was immediately on board with adding a Therapy K9 to the unit. There have been many incidents where a therapy dog, with its unconditional love and acceptance, could have been valuable to victims, family members, and to first responders at traumatic events. There aren’t many things more comforting than the warm welcome and a big kiss from a dog during stressful times, and hopefully, Deputy Gordon and Loki can bring comfort to people involved in a horrible incident.”
Currently, the Erie County Sheriff’s Office has four narcotics detection canines assigned to the jail division, three explosive detection canines, four Police Services narcotics detection canines, one accelerant detection canine, and one cadaver detection dog. The Sheriff’s Office believes Loki will be the first certified law enforcement therapy canine in New York.
The Sheriff’s 21st Century Foundation provided funding to cover travel and lodging expenses, and the training course is free to law enforcement agencies.