Local

Reading police are getting 2 comfort dogs to use in schools

The Labrador puppies will soon be paired with two SROs.

The Reading Police Department is getting two comfort dogs to be used in its schools. The students of Reading Public Schools will get to choose the name of the first dog.

The department said in a news release Monday that it will be receiving the first of two Labrador puppies later this month, and the other will join the department in late April.

Both puppies will be paired with a school resource officer.

“Reading Police have seen an uptick in mental health-related calls in both schools and in the community-at-large since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic,” the department wrote in a news release.

The Reading Police Department is getting two comfort dogs. – Reading Police Department

The comfort dog program is part of an effort by the department to seek new strategies for responding to such calls in a way that deescalates situations and fosters positive interactions.

Advertisement:

“We are excited to launch this program and for the contributions these two comfort dogs will make to our department and the well-being of everyone they interact with,” Police Chief David Clark said in a news release.

The dogs will be used to help soothe children and provide support for victims of crime or trauma.

The department said that the dogs will spend most of their time with SROs Brian Lewis and Matt Vatcher at Reading Public Schools, but that they will also visit the senior center and assisted living facilities.

“The comfort dogs will be an invaluable addition to our school community, and I look forward to the positive impact they’ll have on students throughout the district,” Superintendent Dr. Thomas Milaschewski said in the news release.

“Our SROS have long been a valuable part of our schools and their new partners will no doubt deepen the connection among our students, staff and the SROs in our buildings.”

Local

The comfort dog program was the brainchild of Lewis and Vatcher. They worked with Brad McNamara, who is both a Lunenberg police officer and oversees the comfort dog program for Boonefield Labs in Rindge, New Hampshire, to develop a comfort dog program for Reading.

Advertisement:

Breeders Peggi and David Brogan have donated over 18 dogs to law enforcement comfort programs throughout New England, and have committed to provide two to Reading police.

The first dog will be paired with Officer Lewis at the high school, and will live with him and his family. The dog has not been named yet, so the children of Reading Public Schools are invited to send name suggestions for the dog.

Suggestions should be sent via email to [email protected] The email should include the student’s name and what school they attend. Name suggestions need to be submitted by March 15.

Conversation

This discussion has ended. Please join elsewhere on Boston.com