ST. PAUL, Minn. (FOX 9) - Sgt. Fuzz, the St. Paul Police Department’s therapy dog, is stepping up into a new role, becoming the nation's first certified first responder therapy dog.
The mixed breed came to the Saul Paul Police Department three years ago. Reserve Officer Kathryn Smith rescued the puppy and thought he could help.
"I said, 'Hey, Chief, I have this idea' and it just went from there," said Smith.
Sgt. Fuzz became the department’s official therapy dog for their own staff, coming to work whenever Smith did.
"Sometimes it takes me a while to get out of the parking lot to get into the building because people say, 'Sgt. Fuzz is here!'" said Smith.
There’s no doubt he’s made a difference.
"I don’t know what it is, the endorphins or whatever, we see enough stuff out there and little stuff like this really does help," said a St. Paul police officer while petting Sgt. Fuzz.
Fuzz then began going to community outreach events, helping break down barriers. That’s when Smith had another idea. What if Sgt. Fuzz could go to actual police calls and help victims?
Now, Sgt. Fuzz is the first known certified first responder therapy dog in the country.
"He’s allowed to wear a vest with the first responders," said Smith. "He’s representing the department. He can be off-leash. He can go into the court setting and be a distance away from me."
Newly certified, he has not been on a call yet. Being the first, the St. Paul Police Department is writing the playbook on how he can be used.
"I’m foreseeing that he’ll be used for people in crisis type calls, where maybe the officers aren’t getting a response from the person and in order to get them to open up a little more and talk about what’s going on," said Commander Mary Brodt.
He could go to domestic calls, accidents or fire scenes - anywhere victims could benefit.
"We want to make sure the scene is safe, of course, and make sure the victim is comfortable with having the dog there, and then again if the officer requests it and feel it would be an added, useful resource, absolutely," said Brodt.
Even though he’s first in the nation, his rank won’t change.
"We love his name Sgt. Fuzz!" said Smith.