Fla. department gets new therapy K-9
While interacting with K-9s is usually discouraged so no one interferes with their work, this K-9 is completely different
The News Herald, Panama City, Fla.
LYNN HAVEN, Fla. — The term "police dog" conjures a certain image - a stately German Shepherd or perhaps its darker cousin, the Malinois, or even a Bloodhound, known for sniffing out perps.
What it doesn't necessarily conjure is the ankle-high, tan possibly Chihuahua, Pug, Corgi, Pomeranian mix with a curlycue tail and a love of beef jerky serving as the Lynn Haven Police Department's first police dog.
"They brought him in and we were like, 'What the heck is that?'" joked LHPD Communications Manager Raymond Gates.
That would be Mugshot, or Mugsy as he's known around the travel trailer serving as LHPD dispatch since Hurricane Michael, so named because "he's just got that mug," remarked Gates, something about the combination of big brown eyes, lopsided ears and a slightly off-center nose that instantly puts people at ease. It's what makes him perfect for the role of therapy animal, because it's just about impossible to see him and not break out into a goofy grin.
"What we want to use him for is kind of like a therapy dog," Gates said. "In case there's situations with a child, maybe in a car accident and the child is upset, the parents are being checked out by EMTs. Mugshot can calm them down."
While interacting with police dogs is usually discouraged, as the dogs are working and it interferes with their work, Gates said that with Mugshot, it will actually be the opposite. They want people to come meet him, touch him and get to know him. The plan is to make him into a kind of mascot for the police department, bringing him to events around the county, like low-cost shot clinics and to the animal shelter. He made his debut on Friday during the city-wide cleanup event, and Gates said he passed with flying colors.
"His demeanor is perfect for it," Gates said. "He's very laid back."
Mugshot has been with the department for about a week, spending his days and the weekends in the dispatch trailer and going home at night with Gates. He was originally found by a resident wandering around an apartment complex damaged by Hurricane Michael, who took him to the Lynn Haven Animal Shelter when they couldn't find his owner. After being at the shelter a few weeks, the city's animal control officer brought him over to the city's Service Center, where "everybody just fell in love with him," Gates said. The city had been wanting to get an animal for the police department already, but wanted to start small. Mugshot fit the bill perfectly.
And yes, while his temporary badge says dispatch for now, Mugshot will be an official police department K-9, complete with an actual police badge.
"He will be the first K-9 unit for the community," Gates said.
Even though Mugshot's only been with the city a short time, Gates said he already sees a difference in how the public has been interacting with the police, bridging the gap and making people more comfortable. Gates said he's talked to quite a few residents who come by to see Mugshot, but then feel comfortable enough to bring up issues they're having at home or in their neighborhoods, or even feel comfortable enough to wander around the city's Service Center and get to know the other city departments. Gates said he's also taking the dog to the local schools so the students are familiar with him if something ever happens and Mugshot is sent out to assist.
Mugshot spends most of his time in the dispatch trailer behind Sharon Sheffield Park, but does take regular walks through the park to meet the public between 10 - 10:30 a.m. and 3 - 3:30 p.m.
©2019 The News Herald (Panama City, Fla.)
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