‘Paws and Stripes College’ Graduates First-Ever Law Enforcement Therapy Dog Class

By  //  September 5, 2016

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Nation's first ever Investigative Therapy K-9 Unit

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Brevard County Sheriff Wayne Ivey with graduates Detective Astrel Labbe and “Harley” with the Boynton Beach Police Department; Detective Lisa Choquette and “Rocky” with the Davie Police Department; Deputy Tara Fay and “KiKi” (KiKi is available for a Law Enforcement agency for the November class); Deputy Yolanda Rivera and “Jackson” (Jackson was trained and adopted by a child therapist); and Cpl. Kenneth Lampp and “Daisy” (Daisy is pending agency approval at a Florida Law Enforcement agency). (BCSO image)

BREVARD COUNTY, FLORIDA – On Saturday, our Paws & Stripes College reached a milestone by graduating the first ever Law Enforcement Therapy Dog class.

Graduates included Detective Astrel Labbe and “Harley” with the Boynton Beach Police Department; Detective Lisa Choquette and “Rocky” with the Davie Police Department; Deputy Tara Fay and “KiKi” (KiKi is available for a Law Enforcement agency for the November class); Deputy Yolanda Rivera and “Jackson” (Jackson was trained and adopted by a child therapist); and Cpl. Kenneth Lampp and “Daisy” (Daisy is pending agency approval at a Florida Law Enforcement agency).

As you may recall in 2013, the Brevard County Sheriff’s Office, Special Victim’s Unit started the nation’s first ever Investigative Therapy K-9 Unit.

As part of the initiative “Primus the Puggle” and his handler, Agent Jessie Holton participated in an 18-month pilot study partnered with the University of Central Florida.

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Earning his Doctorate degree in Education with a concentration in Organizational Sociology from the UCF College of Education and Human Performance is one of Brevard County Sheriff’s Office Special Victims Unit Agent Jessie Holton’s most rewarding accomplishments. (UCF image)

The results of the program indicated that child victims disclosed more information during interviews due to interactions with a Therapy Dog than they did when a Therapy Dog was not utilized as part of the interview process.

Essentially, the use of the Therapy Dog led to more offenders being held accountable for their horrific actions and also provided a life changing interaction with Law Enforcement that helped began the healing process for many child victims.

Brevard County Sheriff’s Agent Jessie Holton, Canine Companion Combatting Child AbuseRelated Story:
Brevard County Sheriff’s Agent Jessie Holton, Canine Companion Combatting Child Abuse

After witnessing the amazing work that K-9’s can do for children, K-9 “Murphy” was added to the BCSO Special Victim’s Unit in 2015 and partnered with Agent Cyndi Young to assist “Primus” and Agent Holton in ensuring we could provide this wonderful service to as many children as possible.

As the program expanded, we began to get calls from other Law Enforcement agencies wanting to replicate the program. This is when the hard working men and women of our Paws & Stripes College came to the rescue by designing a training course to aid other agencies in deploying Therapy Dogs to assist in their investigations.

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BREVARD COUNTY SHERIFF’S AGENTS Jessie Holton, right, and Cyndi Young lead the Special Victim’s Unit Therapy Dog Program. Agent Holton’s partner is “Primus,” and Agent Young’s sidekick is “Murphy.” (BCSO image)

By incorporating the services and teamwork of our Animal Services Unit, Brevard County Jail, and Criminal Investigative Services, Paws & Stripes College designed a program that now provides Law Enforcement Therapy Dogs to other agencies at no cost.

The training and placement of the Therapy Dogs is done by taking shelter dogs surrendered to our Animal Services Unit and sending them through our 8-week Basic Obedience course where inmates from our Brevard County Re-Entry Program train dogs while also learning a job skill.

After the 8-week course, dogs who are selected by our K-9 Specialist, Clara Mutter, go through an additional 4-week advanced program, at which time they are either selected for our Law Enforcement program or are given away free to veterans, children and others in need of well-trained Comfort Animals.

BCSO Animals Services Paws & Stripes College  A Life-Changing ProgramRelated Story:
BCSO Animals Services Paws & Stripes College A Life-Changing Program

Extremely advanced dogs continue on with our one-on-one training in which Specialist Mutter makes the final determination on whether they are fit to be an Investigative Therapy Dog. At that time, agencies who have applied to our program are invited to come to our 40 hour course and receive their new K-9 partner.

Please join me in congratulating all of the graduates and agencies and also in thanking our team for a job well done!

If you, your agency, or someone you know could benefit from any of these outstanding programs, please e-mail us at pawsandstripescollege@bcso.us or call 321-690-1500, ext. 83155.

– Sheriff Wayne Ivey

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