In times of crisis, we are called to step up. Connecticut Police Service Dogs are doing just that, putting their best paws forward in the wake of the Texas school shooting.
Through hard times, the dogs will always offer a smile.
“These type of dogs are meant to do this. This is what they're trained to do,” said Rich Simons with the Yale University Police Department, who’s partner officer is yellow Labrador Heidi.
Heidi and Bear wear their badges proudly. They are two members of Connecticut Police Service Dogs, now deployed to schools across the state in the wake of the school shooting in Uvalde, Texas.
“I think you see a sense of fear on the parents faces. I spoke to a few parents yesterday who got choked up and they were crying,” said Jay Bodell of the Middletown Police Department, with partner officer Bear.
In all, the group has ten service dogs out at schools, offering a shoulder and an ear.
“Rightfully so, people are very nervous and tense,” Simons said. “And that's when we try to come in and do the best we can to help in any way we can.”
While Connecticut Police Service Dogs respond to multiple tragedies, the Robb Elementary school shooting is the largest scale event that has prompted the dogs to go out into the community, providing comfort.
It draws emotion from their handlers, too, who recall the Sandy Hook school shooting in 2012.
“I remember right where I was. I didn't work that scene, I was in a different town, where we went to the schools,” Bodell said. “It rehashes a lot of memories, things people have tried to forget. And I can't imagine what the families and first responders in Newtown are going through right now, having to relive this all over again.”
Now a dad to a five-year-old daughter, Bodell has a new perspective.
“It really hits different, and makes you sick to your stomach,” he said.
The officers want the community to know comfort comes in all shapes and sizes.
“Most people say, ‘You've made my day, made me feel better,’” Simons said.
Sometimes, comfort has four legs and a tail.
“Just know that you know this state as a whole, the first responders, we're here for you,” Bodell said. “Now, more than ever, these dogs really just put that smile on our teachers and students and parents' faces. Several times, I heard ‘This really made my day.’”
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