Police department introduces therapy and assistance dog to Sagamore community

by Michele Collins

During the next month, a new neighbor will be acclimating to her home in Sagamore Hills thanks to the Therapy/Assistance Dog Program started by the Sagamore Hills Police Department. “Annie,” a one-year-old Great Pyrenees rescue dog, will serve as the therapy/assistance dog for the entire Sagamore Hills community, visiting schools, nursing homes, community events and even making periodic visits to members of the Senior Call Program.

Annie is currently undergoing training in Wisconsin through Jessiffany Canine Services, a dog trainer company in Dodge County. She will arrive in Sagamore Hills in late August.

According to Police Chief David Hayes, police department member, Lt. Dan Rice approached him with the idea of a service dog about a year ago. Rice offered to go through the handler’s training, as well as house the dog at his home with his family when she is off-duty. Rice spent two weeks in Wisconsin for his portion of the training, alongside Annie.

“Annie will be introduced to our community in a few weeks, after she gets acclimated to our department and her new handler, Lt. Rice,” said Hayes.

Hayes said that he wanted a dog “that would showcase our community oriented policing philosophy,” so a search was undertaken to find the most compatible dog. Annie, who is described by her trainers as “a sweetheart who is affectionate and friendly with everyone,” fit the bill.

Hayes noted that the entire community has embraced Annie, even before she arrived, offering their services to help with the costs of having a service dog program. Dr. Mark Hennis and the Sagamore Hills Pet Hospital have volunteered to provide health care services to Annie; Tractor Supply is donating her food, and Smoochie Poochies will be providing monthly grooming for Annie. Mary’s Grooming will provide nail care services for the dog. Sagamore community members are also welcome to donate to the program.

“To keep costs to the township at a minimum, a fund will be set up to sustain the program and care for Annie,” Hayes added.

Those interested in having Annie for a local event or community visit may contact Lt. Dan Rice at drice@sagamorehills.com.  ∞