Sheriff hosts convention for comfort dogs

Sheriff hosts convention for comfort dogs

HAVERHILL, Mass. — Northern Essex Community College was the happiest place in Haverhill on Tuesday as comfort dogs from area law enforcement agencies came together for a meet and greet sponsored by the Essex County Sheriff’s Department.

These comfort dogs have become an integral part of community policing and are often found helping in schools or care facilities, said Essex County Sheriff Kevin F. Coppinger. He said this event was done to support these officers and dogs, as well as to provide some free training.

For Coppinger, the decision to add a comfort dog to the Department was about helping Essex County communities, but also about taking care of employees.

“Being in law enforcement comes with unavoidable stress. When these dogs walk into our facilities, it lessens the burden a bit. It gives an officer who may be feeling overwhelmed a chance to breathe and receive a little love from a happy dog,” Sheriff Coppinger said. “It’s about officer wellness, but it’s also a way for us to support our communities and bring these comfort dogs out in times of need, especially when tragedy strikes.”

Tuesday’s event was the first of three of these events, which will include training for the officers and dogs, and will culminate in an obedience competition in the fall. Essex County Sheriff’s Department Captain Laura Dow and the Department’s facility dog handler Officer Christian Guzman spearheaded the effort to bring these dogs together.

“It’s a way for us to all to come together, to share stories and lessons learned, and see how we can best work together to share our comfort dogs with our communities in the best way possible,” said Dow, who also heads the Department’s K9 Unit. “There’s a lot of camaraderie among K9 officers and we want to continue to foster these relationships.”

Tuesday’s event included the meet and greet, as well as blessing of the animals and officers by The Rev. Mike Doyle of St. Mary of the Annunciation in Danvers. Training was provided by Charles Young of Professional Canine Services of Middleborough. The trainings were made possible by a grant from Essex County Outreach, a collaborative effort of Essex County law enforcement agencies and the Essex County Sheriff’s Department to combat substance use disorders and mental health matters.

“This was a great event for all of us and our dogs,” said Officer Guzman. “This is such a great crew of officers and these dogs are just the best. They can’t help but make you smile.”


Attending the training were:


  • Essex County Sheriff’s Department Officer Christian Guzman and partner Pasky
  • Peabody Police SRO Eric Ricci and partner Ella
  • Rockport Police SRO Mike Anderson and partner Luna
  • Gloucester Police SRO Pete Sutera and partner Ace
  • Manchester-by-the-Sea Police SRO Andrea Locke and partner Daisy
  • Northern Essex Community College Police Lt. Keith Walker and partner Winnie
  • Massachusetts State Police Trooper Chad Tata and partner Luna
  • Swampscott Police SRO Brian Wilson and partner Sora
  • Hamilton Police Officer Michael Girolimon and partner Luca


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