If Westerville Police Officer Mark Wojciechowski has stopped by your school, then you’ve probably seen the newest member of the Division’s K-9 Program.
Chloe, a year-and-a-half-old English Labrador Retriever, is training to become the first-ever therapy dog for the Westerville Division of Police. She will work with both the Westerville City Schools and the community.
“She can be a friend to students who are maybe having a bad day and maybe students who are dealing with stress or anxiety,” Wojciechowski said. “She can provide some comfort to them.”
The Westerville Division of Police has developed a strong K-9 Program over the years where dogs have been trained in patrol functions, building searches, criminal apprehension, and drug detection. Six months ago, Chief of Police Charles Chandler decided to add a therapy dog to the K-9 Program in an effort to enhance the Division’s connection with the community.
“He saw a way for us to have better interaction with members of the community through a therapy dog,” Wojciechowski said.
Chloe is currently going through obedience training and will also attend a therapy dog training school to become a certified therapy dog. She is slated to become available for school and classroom visits this fall, Wojciechowski said.
For now, students, teachers and staff can see Chloe when she accompanies Wojciechowski to his D.A.R.E. lessons at fifth-grade classrooms across the district.
Earlier last month, Chloe joined Wojciechowski when he visited Shelley Ebright’s fifth-grade class at Annehurst Elementary. Before the D.A.R.E. lesson, Wojciechowski and Ebright invited students to pet Chloe, who sat relaxed on the floor by Wojciechowski’s feet.
One student, who recently moved to the area and was new to the school, had never seen Chloe before.
“Chloe comes in and she loves to be touched,” Ebright told her.
Together, they approached Chloe who immediately rolled over to bare her belly.
“She does it for certain people,” Wojciechowski told the student. “She likes to have her belly petted.”