Join us in creating a regional therapy dog coalition

It was roughly 1pm on June 2, just a few weeks ago. Bristol County Sheriff ’s Office K9 capt. Paul Doug las and his four-legged partner, Huntah, were doing  Covid detection at the Freetown Elementary School on  Bullock Road. 

They finished up in a classroom and headed back to the  car so Huntah could have a drink  of water. Just as they exited the building, the school nurse and a frowning, sad kid approached Principal Mike Ward. There was an incident with a frog at recess, and the youngster was having a tough time. The nurse asked Principal Ward if Huntah was around to make the student feel better. 

Over the next 10-15 minutes, the kid took Huntah for a walk around the school grounds and spent some time petting her and making a new friend. The nurse took the kid back to class with a smile on his face and a promise that Capt. Douglas and Huntah would say hello next time they visited Freetown Elementary School. 

The mission of public safety and law enforcement has evolved in my decades as Sheriff of Bristol County. Making people  feel safer in their workplaces, schools and neighborhoods  is more important than ever. 

So we decided to cross train Duke and Huntah, our  Covid-detecting dogs, in therapy and emotional support.  

Today, they are certified therapy dogs who are trained to  comfort people and provide emotional support. 

We are starting a coalition to share resources and oppor tunities to bring comfort to those who need it. Already,  our comfort dogs are scheduled to make weekly visits to  

schools in Somerset next year, and they’re expected to  be back in Freetown/Lakeville, Fairhaven, Acushnet and  others. We’ve been working with New Bedford Fire Chief  Scott Kruger on having the dogs available for families  in distress after fires. They will be utilized as part of the  Sheriff ’s Office’s stress unit, which focuses on staff mental  health and wellness. 

The possibilities are endless. Please join me and Capt.  Douglas on Thursday, June 23, at 9 a.m. for a discussion/ meeting on how we can help you and how we can help  each other. We’ll meet in a function room at the Sheriff ’s  Office, 400 Faunce Corner Road in Dartmouth. Please  RSVP by call or text to Capt. Douglas at 508-989-4774 or  email at [email protected] 

If you can’t make it, please reach out to me or Capt. Doug las anytime to request a visit from our comfort dogs or for  more details. They are available to everyone throughout  Bristol County and anyone in need. 

Duke and Huntah have brought smiles to so many stu dents, seniors and others across the region this year. Let’s  see if they can bring more smiles to our friends and neigh bors in need. 

We look forward to seeing you on June 23. Thanks again