The Reading Police Department is getting two comfort dogs to use in its schools. Students at Reading Public Schools will be able to choose the name of the first dog.
The department said in a press release Monday that it will receive the first of two Labrador puppies later this month, and the other will join the department in late April.
Both pups will be paired with a School Resource Officer.
“Reading Police have seen an increase in mental health-related calls at both schools and in the community at large since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic,” the department wrote in a news release.
The comfort dog program is part of a departmental effort to research new strategies for responding to such calls in a way that defuses situations and promotes positive interactions.
“We are thrilled to launch this program and for the contributions these two comfort dogs will make to our service and the well-being of everyone they interact with,” Chief Constable David Clark said in a press release. .
The dogs will be used to help soothe children and provide support to victims of crime or trauma.
The department said the dogs will spend most of their time with ORS Brian Lewis and Matt Vatcher at Reading Public Schools, but will also visit the senior center and assisted living facilities.
“Comfort dogs will be an invaluable addition to our school community, and I look forward to the positive impact they will have on students across the district,” Superintendent Dr. Thomas Milaschewski said in the statement. Press.
“Our SROS have long been a valuable part of our schools and their new partners will no doubt deepen the bond between our students, our staff and the SROs in our buildings.”
The comfort dog program was the brainchild of Lewis and Vatcher. They worked with Brad McNamara, who is both a police officer in Lunenberg and oversees the comfort dog program for Boonefield Labs in Rindge, New Hampshire, to develop a comfort dog program for Reading.
Breeders Peggi and David Brogan have donated more than 18 dogs to law enforcement comfort programs throughout New England and have pledged to provide two to Reading Police.
The first dog will be paired with Officer Lewis in high school and live with him and his family. The dog has yet to be named, so children at Reading Public Schools are being asked to send in name suggestions for the dog.
Suggestions should be emailed to [email protected] The email should include the student’s name and the school they attend. Name suggestions must be submitted by March 15.
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