Pueblo police add emotional support dog, Ami

Pueblo’s newest police recruit is 11 weeks old, weighs 14 pounds, and became an overnight darling of the department.

Ami, a regular poodle, had his first day as a comfort dog in the Pueblo Police Department on September 6th.

His supervisor is Officer Meagan Chapman, who coordinates special events and neighborhood watch in addition to other crime prevention and social engagement. She was chosen because of her unique and diverse roles.

“I interact a lot with the public on a non-patrol basis where Ami can community with me,” she said. “I also have an office here in the department that allows officers to visit him and take him through the department to all the different units and visit everyone.”

During the week, Ami was in the office, the duo did rounds mornings and afternoons, and Chapman’s open door policy allows anyone to stop by the pup for a break.

Over time, Ami is expected to reach around 70 pounds.

He becomes a sworn officer – badge and everything.

More:Rapid COVID-19 tests in Pueblo are hard to find, but free PCR testing is still available in the Pueblo Mall

“We just want it to be a positive break for everyone … a good mental health break … when you’re having a bad day or even a good day,” said Chapman. “In the community we also want him to be that positive light. So maybe he could help someone who is going through a traumatic experience when they have difficulty with it, and hopefully bring some joy and calm to the situation.” . “

Ami will complete obedience school and critical incident stress management training to become a full-fledged comfort animal once fully vaccinated in October, Chapman said.

Mental health care has grown in importance in the department over the years, according to Chief Chris Noeller, who shared his goals to support the department’s officials with initiatives like a comfort dog during his early days as boss.

“Expectations from the community are high, the stress of many laws is putting our officials under severe psychological pressure and the inability to get people to jail the way we should probably do to protect our community is another stressful factor, which was added, “he said.

“The idea is exciting even to me to see how the dog can mentally improve the comfort of some of our officers.”

Chapman repeated the chief’s feelings.

“Mental health is critical – we experience a lot of trauma in our position,” she said. “It’s nice to have him here to give the officers these positive experiences during their day.

“It gives them the option to take a break other than going to lunch or sitting in their car,” she added. “People have already told us that it helps them feel better all day.”

Sgt. Franklyn Ortega, Pueblo PD Public Information Officer, said a narcotics officer said he was glad to have the dog around.

“He told me he wasn’t expecting it, but he played with him a bit and said he was better,” said Ortega.

All Ami’s supplies, training, and care are donated by local businesses. In fact, Ami was a donation from Fuzzybottoms Poodles and Bernadoodles.

The reason for a poodle was its hypoallergenic aspects, Chapman said, which allow it to be more accessible to the community and department.

More:New convention map shows Pueblo in Southern Colorado District, draws Boebert from CO-3

Chieftain reporter Heather Willard can be reached by email at hwillard@gannett.com or on Twitter: @HeatherDWrites.