“Dogs can bring so much joy to people,” said Cathy Young. “We rescued our dog King, a year ago on December 23rd. We started taking him to visit my mother who lives in an assisted living facility and noticed how well he connected with people young and old. So we decided to see if he would be a good fit to become a therapy dog.”
It turns out, was a good fit. After completing training courses and passing a series of tests the Golden Retriever, German Shepard mix is now dual certified through Valzoren Canine Training in Grand Blanc and Therapy Dogs International.
While King was completing training, the Youngs came up with the idea of starting a volunteer therapy dog program with the Flint Police Department. She shared her idea with police Chief Tim Johnson and brought King in to meet the chief who gave the program his blessing.
“Chief Johnson was very supportive of the idea,” said Cathy Young. “He agreed to allow King to be brought on duty as a therapy dog for the police department. King will be used in situations involving abused children and children who have been removed from their home. Sometimes kids have to wait at the station a few hours while police and social services figure out what the next step is for them and that can be scary for a child. Now, they will get to spend some time with King while they wait. I think he will be a good distraction and help bring the kids some comfort.”
The program will in place on a trial basis initially. If all goes well, the Youngs say they’d love to expand it and bring in more dogs to help comfort those who need it.
“The Therapy Dog Program is another tool to help us help the citizens of Flint,” said Johnson. “It will help to relieve some of the stress caused after an unfortunate and traumatic incident.”
(Story Courtesy of City of Flint Spokeswoman Kristin Moore.)