Greenfield Police unveil new comfort dog

(Western Mass News photo)

K-9’s play a key role in police work across the country, but one K-9 in western Massachusetts has a rather special assignment.

You could say this Saint Bernard is more concerned about comfort than it is about criminals and in an emergency, Greenfield residents will feel a whole lot better with their new companion around.

Meet Donut, he’s a nine week old Saint Bernard and the next K-9 comfort dog in Greenfield, a service donated to the town.

Donut's job? Doing what dogs do best, only Instead of sniffing for suspects, he will be sniffing for stresses, working hand-in-paw with the public and first responders.

"They’re able to calm people down. They are able to break barriers that people have between each other," said Greenfield Police Lt. William Gordon.

Gordon and his wife have been doing this at the national level for years with seven year old Clarence, Donut’s cousin, at incidents like Sandy Hook, the Boston Marathon bombing, and the Las Vegas shooting. Clarence even made a trip to the White House.

On Thursday, Gordon brought Donut and Clarence to Life Skills Inc., an adult special needs center in Greenfield to introduce them and offer residents some comfort should they need it.

“I was really surprised that they came over here and are actually getting involved with us like that. They know that we do exist over here, that these people exist, they’re good people," said Amy Williams with Life Skills.

Between petting him and just taking in the cuteness, Donut can be pretty distracting, but that is exactly the point - a chance to stop the anxiety in its tracks.

“Everybody seems to be calm, and interactive, and that’s amazing to see that," Williams added.

Gordon told Western Mass News that calmness breeds calmness and there is something about a dog that can help those truly terrified.

“People that are victims of crime that may not really want to talk to the police, they may feel more comfortable talking to an animal," Gordon added.

Clarence is just one year away from retirement, then it will be Donut’s time. He’ll be available to the public and first responders after proper training with Lt. Gordon.

Copyright 2018 Western Mass News (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

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