The little white golden retriever who’s been greeting visitors at Springboro City Hall is plenty friendly, but he’s also part of a national trend.
Blue, a white golden retriever, is being trained as a comfort dog and will join comfort K-9s already ready for duty around the country.
In Ohio, comfort dogs are also attached to the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office and police departments in Marblehead and Mechanicsburg, according to Patrick Quinn, coordinator of the Lutheran Church Charities K-9 Police Ministry, based in Northbrook, Ill.
Quinn was among those consulted by Springboro Police Chief Jeff Kruithoff.
“The game plan is he’s always at the building, in case we have victims that are a little bit traumatized,” Kruithoff said. “He can calm them down a bit.”
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Quinn’s Christian-outreach comfort dogs have responded to disasters and school and police shootings. The dogs are waiting at schools to ease the trauma of returning after shootings or other disasters.
Elsewhere in Ohio, comfort dogs are also stationed at Atonement Lutheran Church in Columbus and Trinity Lutheran Church and School in Toledo, Quinn said. They also visit hospitals and nursing homes.
Kruithoff said Pittsburgh police added a comfort dog after a mass shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue in October 2018.
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“I saw where they were very, very effective,” said Kruithoff, who also works as a chaplain at disaster sites. “That planted the seed.”
Blue, who’s just over 9 weeks old, was donated by Spirit Golden Retrievers in Clearcreek Twp., the unincorporated area around Springboro, according to the police chief.
“He started last Monday,” Kruithoff said on Wednesday, July 18.
Blue had been spending the night with Kruithoff and his wife. This week, the chief left Blue with Officer Antwaun Scott, who will be his main handler.
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Unlike police K-9s used for drug detection and other law enforcement work, comfort dogs are trained to work with multiple handlers, Kruithoff said.
Kruithoff said he also consulted with Dr. Gary Beall of Springboro Veterinary Hospital and Mike Loesche, Homeland K-9s in Springboro. “He’s kind of like the dog whisperer,” Kruithoff said of Loesche.
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Blue is getting socialized and learning obedience commands. He is to undergo training with Loesche and nine handlers. The pooch will be part of police presence around town, at schools and parades.
“He’ll kind of be a department mascot,” Kruithoff said. “We have pretty high hopes for him.”
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