Paws and Stripes College Donates Service Dog To Police Officer Injured In the Line of Duty
By Wayne Ivey, Brevard Sheriff // November 19, 2016
BREVARD COUNTY, FLORIDA – In late September of this year, the Brevard County Sheriff’s Office was contacted by Retired Officer Mike Holberg regarding the possibility of obtaining one of our Paws & Stripes Service Dogs.
Officer Holberg is a medically retired Law Enforcement Officer from the Orlando Police Department who was severely injured in September 2007 while attempting to apprehend a suspect.
After years of being on a waiting list and trying to secure funds for a Service Animal to assist him with his medical disabilities, Officer Holberg learned about the Brevard County Sheriff’s Office Paws & Stripes College by reading about the program on our website.
Holberg then reached out for our Paws and Stripes College Program Coordinator and within weeks, our amazing Animal Services and Paws & Stripes College team found the perfect dog, “Duke” who they began getting ready for Officer Holberg at no cost.
After being forced to retire because of his on-duty injury Officer Holberg and his family moved to Tennessee in an effort to assist in his recovery.
Although Officer Holberg had searched for a longtime to locate a service dog to aid him in recovery and coping with the results of his injuries there were still several obstacles standing between him and Duke.
In order for him to obtain “Duke”, he would need to travel to Brevard County and complete a week-long required adaptation training that would be provided by our Paws & Stripes College Team.
Since Duke was being provided free of charge by our program, Officer Holberg and his family would need to pay for all lodging and travel expenses in order to travel to Florida for the week long training.
Now if this story wasn’t already good enough this is where it gets even better.
In order to make sure that Officer Holberg was paired with a Service Dog and that Duke found a new forever home our great community partners in Brevard County stepped up to assist Officer Holberg and his family with expenses.
For example, the Hampton Inn of Cocoa Beach provided the Holberg family rooms for the weekend with an oceanfront view that allowed them to relax and prepare for a busy week. Then, the Best Western of Titusville with assistance from Summit Shah of Southeast Petro provided rooms and accommodations for the rest of the week that allowed “Duke” to stay overnight with his new owner.
In addition to the help with lodging from our community partners the Brevard Lawride, a local charity that assist families of injured and fallen officers, provided the Holberg’s with $500 in cash for food, gas and any other expenses that may be incurred during their stay. A
nd as if all of that was not enough, Paws4Boots, a Brevard County non-profit that assist in training Service Animals for Veterans and First Responders, has agreed to provide the follow-up training with Officer Holberg and “Duke” once they return to Tennessee.
Yesterday, Officer Holberg and his family completed their training and are now ready for a new journey of healing with “Duke”, a shelter dog turned Service Animal by members of the Brevard County Sheriff’s Office Paws and Stripes College that is a partnership between our agency and Eastern Florida State College.
I would like to personally thank everyone in our community that helped make this possible, our incredible staff for everything they do everyday to train dogs in our Paws and Stripes Program, and Officer Holberg for his service and sacrifice as a Law Enforcement Officer.
This story is another perfect example of why Brevard County is one of the greatest places on earth to call home!!