March 31, 2017 (Flint, MI)– Longtime City of Flint employee Cathy Young and her husband Paul have taken it upon themselves to fill a void in the Flint Police Department, and help area children at the same time.
“Dogs can bring so much joy to people,” said Young. “We rescued our dog King, a year ago on December 23rd. We started taking him to visit my mother who lives in an assisted living facility and noticed how well he connected with people young and old. So we decided to see if he would be a good fit to become a therapy dog.”
It turns out, was a good fit. After completing training courses and passing a series of tests the Golden Retriever, German Shepard mix is now dual certified through Valzoren Canine Training in Grand Blanc and Therapy Dogs International.
While King was completing training, Cathy and Paul came up with the idea of starting a volunteer therapy dog program with the Flint Police Department. She shared her idea with police Chief Tim Johnson and brought King in to meet the chief who gave the program his blessing.
“Chief Johnson was very supportive of the idea,” said Cathy. “He agreed to allow King to be brought on duty as a therapy dog for the police department. King will be used in situations involving abused children and children who have been removed from their home. Sometimes kids have to wait at the station a few hours while police and social services figure out what the next step is for them and that can be scary for a child. Now, they will get to spend some time with King while they wait. I think he will be a good distraction and help bring the kids some comfort.”
“The Therapy Dog Program is another tool to help us help the citizens of Flint,” said Johnson. “It will help to relieve some of the stress caused after an unfortunate and traumatic incident.”
The program will in place on a trial basis initially. If all goes well, Cathy and her husband Paul say they’d love to expand it and bring in more dogs to help comfort those who need it.
In addition to the new Dog Therapy Program, Chief Tim Johnson also announced Thursday the opening of a new Flint Neighborhood Police Service Center located at 2316 M L King Ave at the Neighborhood Engagement HUB. Johnson said the new center, along with other service centers now open around the city, will increase police presence in the community and give residents more access to police officers and services.
“We will have police officers and reserve officers here at this service center to service the citizens with all of their needs,” said Johnson. “It’s a different style of policing and we are taking the City of Flint back. I appreciate all the citizens being that want to be a part of fighting crime. We couldn’t do it without the citizens. The citizens have stepped up in the city and it’s making a difference. There is a relationship that we as police was to form and restore. Residents can come here and actually make file a complaint on the computer, right here in their neighborhood.”
“Great things are happening in the City of Flint,” added Mayor Weaver. “This is a great example of different groups and the community coming together.”