Rocky The Therapy Dog

September 11, 2020

Rocky isn’t your typical police dog.

He doesn’t sniff out drugs or chase down suspects. His specialty is, in fact, quite different, yet valued.

“I think the perception is that police dogs are what we commonly call ‘bite dogs’,” said his handler Officer Matt Masci of the Perry Police Department, who’s also the district’s School Resource Officer. “Rocky is only specifically trained for his current task as a therapy dog, not as a detection or search dog — different than a ‘service animal.’

“Police therapy dogs are commonly used to support victim advocacy,” he continued. “Rocky will be used in interviews with juvenile victims, with victims of domestic abuse, on scene after traumatic events, etc. in addition to being a regular uplifting force on daily rounds in the halls and classrooms with our students.”

Rocky is an 18-month-old shepherd/husky mix. He was rescued from a shelter Cocoa, Fla., by the Brevard County Sheriff’s Office’s “Paws and Stripes” program.

BCSO trainers pair dogs with inmates who train the canines over several months before being paired with their handlers, Mascii said. The BCSO is the leader in therapy dog initiative, he said, and graduates classes of approximately 10 dogs, twice a year.

Rocky graduated from the program after more than four months of training. He was fully certified as a Police Investigative Therapy Dog and also passed his Canine Good Citizens exam for the American Kennel Club.

He’s the first such police canine in the immediate area.

“Rocky will be training with me over the course of the next month or so to get fully adjusted to his new job and environment,” Masci said.

So why bring a therapy dog to Perry?

At a time when communities are facing hardships through COVID-19 and perceived mistrust in law enforcement, Perry Police Chief Michael Grover said in a statement that “there couldn’t be a better time for this sort of resource in our community”.

The Erie County Sheriff’s Office currently has two such trained dogs and deputies assigned as School Resource Officers and the program has proven successful. Grover and Masci recognized the idea as an opportunity to offer the same in Perry.

The program was made possible with a donation from Pioneer Credit Recovery, which has a facility in the village. It helped pay for Masci and Rocky’s training, along with outfitting Masci’s patrol vehicle for the canine.

The Perry Veterinary Clinic has partnered with the police department as Rocky’s exclusive provider for his basic and annual needs.

The village board and school district likewise supported the idea.

“We are fortunate to have a thoughtful local business and dedicated police department support this innovative initiative,” said Superintendent Daryl McLaughin. “The therapy dog program will enhance our students’ experiences at PCS.”

Rocky can work with students from kindergarten to seniors, and will also serve in overall village. He’ll be with Masci full-time in the school district.

“Therapy dogs are no stranger to hospitals, nursing homes, etc.,” Masci said. “Those are commonly referred to as ‘facility dogs.’

“The Police Investigative Therapy Dog is a bit more involved as he will be used in so many environments,” he continued. “Just yesterday, Rocky was used in his first youth interview and was able to provide comfort to a juvenile that might not have normally opened up to an authority figure.”

And that’s the point.

Rocky has undergone specific training that makes him and Masci a valuable resource in the community when working with juvenile or domestic violence victims, or people involved in other tragedies.

“Children don’t always feel confident speaking to adults or police officers, but bringing a dog in really changes the dynamic of the room in a troubling time,” Masci said.

Grover said the police department is excited at the opportunity and grateful for the support.

“Our local partners have really stepped up for our community and, most importantly, for our kids,” he said.

  • Most Recent News

    Big Dogs Need Owners

    October 9, 2020

    When the shutdown orders took full effect, it became nearly impossible to find a small dog available for adoption as Southlanders sought furry companions. In many Southland shelters, only larger breeds remained available for adoption. Now Los Angeles Animal Service is touting the joys of big dogs while offering discounted adoption fees for larger breeds […]

    Read more

    Service Dog Walkathon

    October 9, 2020

    On Saturday, October 3, hundreds of walkers from across 15 states joined the path to bettering the world for children with autism and their families as part of BluePath Service Dogs’ fourth annual walkathon. The family-friendly fundraiser – this year held virtually – raised more than $120,000 to further BluePath’s mission of providing autism service […]

    Read more

    Service Dog In The Marching Band

    October 9, 2020

    In a year that is anything but normal, the Jones College Maroon Typhoon Marching Band has welcomed its first known service dog member this fall. Laurie, a 3-year-old golden retriever, is baritone saxophone player Sara-Beth McKellar’s service dog. The Vicksburg native was diagnosed with epilepsy as a sophomore in high school after her first seizure. […]

    Read more

    Church Blesses Animals

    October 9, 2020

    St. Mary’s Church of the Immaculate Conception in Port Jervis hosted a special outdoor service last Sunday afternoon to bless the community’s pets, animals and other living creatures. In keeping with current pandemic rules, pet owners wore masks, remained distant, and took part in praying for dogs, cats, turtles, and other pets and animals around […]

    Read more

    Police Welcomes New Canine

    October 9, 2020

    Young Kingston Police service dog Bask may look small, but his handler says his training and energy are proving that he’s up to fill the shoes of his predecessor. “I think he’s going to be a great little dog,” Const. Jeff Dickson said, looking down at his new partner. A partner that, wearing the right […]

    Read more

    Dog Park For Travelers

    October 9, 2020

    St. Petersburg is widely recognized as a dog-friendly city, and St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport is making sure its four-legged visitors and their humans feel welcome by rolling out the artificial turf carpet. With the completion of the airport’s parking and roadway project – part of a series of multi-million dollar improvements at the airport over the […]

    Read more

    Service Dog Helps Firefighters

    October 9, 2020

    Firefighters battling the Archie Creek and Thielsen fires have had some long, exhausting days. But for some, their troubles seemed to melt away once they got back to camp. Why? Meet Ralph Colombo. He hauls oversize loads. And joining Ralph is his service dog, Cowboy – the morale boosting, firefighting puppy. “He just keeps my […]

    Read more

    Pet Therapy Program

    October 9, 2020

    Saturday, October 10 is World Mental Health Day, which this year has a new sense of urgency for many. Covid-19 has taken a mental and emotional toll on healthcare workers across the U.S but there is a program boosting the spirits of doctors and nurses on the frontlines. At UC Irvine Medical Center in Southern […]

    Read more

    A Service Dogs Place

    October 9, 2020

    A new Pineville nonprofit that helps people with disabilities obtain service dogs has made its first match. The Saber Life Foundation was started in March by Danea Key and her husband Joel. They provide people with trained service dogs, paying 51 percent of the cost, with the client paying the other 49 percent. Service dogs […]

    Read more

    Dog Beating Cancer

    October 9, 2020

    A little over a year after a local dog was given only a few months to live after being diagnosed with bone cancer, she is still in remission and will be celebrated her twelfth birthday this month. Cocoa has been with her owner, Bucyrus resident Christie Auck, since she was nine-weeks-old. “On Aug. 18, 2019, […]

    Read more

    More Recent News