Two dogs that were allegedly abused at Black Rock Canines facility in Naugatuck have a second chance at life.
The young canines are now serving as support dogs for Connecticut state troopers and the community. At just a year old, Sarge and Chaplin are the first two comfort canines for Connecticut State Police, responding to critical incidents and community events.
"Dogs sense some type of stress or anxiety that an individual might be going through, and that's the purpose of them to be there with the individuals to provide them comfort," said Wellness Coordinator Christine Jeltema. "To give a person the ability to de-stress and kind of focus on themselves."
Jeltema said the dogs were donated to state police following a tragic event in May. Sarge and Chaplin were among a number of dogs allegedly abused at a training facility in Naugatuck. Others were killed at the same facility.
Now, they're working alongside support troopers in an environment one animal law advocate said they'll thrive in.
"There's also a level of comfort and peace and confidence that those animals get in a loving environment. And so, you know, given all of that, they are able to calm down and be loyal, happy dogs that are willing to give back," said Linda Pleva, treasurer and vice president of Desmond's Army.
Chaplin has responded to a few emergency situations already. One incident was in East Granby at the scene of a murder-suicide last month involving an Avon police officer.
"As soon as I approached the scene, it gave investigators and troopers on scene an opportunity to break away from their routine and focus their attention on the dogs," Valdes said.
In traumatic situations, Trooper Rodney Valdes said support dogs are critical for troopers' mental health.
"We don't have the opportunity or were afforded the opportunity to break away from those stressors of trauma and it's invaluable to us now to have these animals come around," Valdes said.
As for Sarge, he's on his way to becoming a little community celebrity.
"He has done the dream ride with me and has sang the National Anthem with me. He personally has not sang, but he sat next to me during my rendition of it," Trooper Donna Saborin said.
Sarge will also be at the Big E next week and visit schools around the state as state police facilitate DARE programing.
"Just to see the community interact with animals is heartwarming. Whether you like animals or not, if you see a dog and want to pet them, it just makes everybody happy," Saborin said.
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