Etowah Co. adds therapy dog to the team

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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) – The Etowah County Sheriff’s Office has a new four-legged employee with their K-9 Millie. The 11-month old Labrador retriever will serve as the department’s first therapy dog.

Millie will join the School Resource Division with SRO Deputy Jameson Jenkins to aid students of Etowah County Schools and the citizens of Etowah County who have struggles, mental health issues, substance use, and other behavioral health.

Millie was donated to the Sheriff’s Office by a private citizen.

She will mainly spend time in the school system assisting students, but she will be available around the clock for any incidents or service calls that she could be assistance in, for Etowah or surrounding counties.

Millie has completed basic training and over the next several months she will be taking extensive training at Franklin County Sheriff’s Office in Ohio to become a Certified Therapy Dog. The certification will be through the Alliance of Therapy Dogs.

“We have her as a therapy and comfort dog, we did a lot of research, the military uses them,” says Sheriff Jonathan Horton, “Other Law Enforcement agencies are starting to utilize them and we have seen that there are many positive effects emotionally and mentally when agencies have therapy dogs to aid victims of violent crimes or traumatic incidents.”

Sheriff Horton says the idea to add Millie to the department was presented to him about nine months ago by Deputy Jenkins.

“Dogs can do things, humans just can’t,” says Deputy Jenkins. “I am overwhelmed with excitement. I began to research the use of therapy dogs in law enforcement nearly a year ago. We know the school system is the perfect setting for Millie to do her job, but that is only just the beginning.”

She will also assist during criminal investigations and in crises.

“She’s also going to help solve crimes. We have somebody who’s been the victim of a violent crime,” adds Deputy Jenkins. ”Obviously, anxiety levels are very high. It’s hard for people to recall facts. The dog comes on and anxiety levels come down. They recall information. If somebody goes out to a call in the middle of the night somebody has lost their home in a fire. We have four children who are displaced this dog is a medium in that situation to take their attention off that.”

Millie will be available to law enforcement agencies in Etowah County and surrounding areas.

To learn more, contact the sheriffs’ office at 256-549-8127.

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