Torrington police welcome therapy dog to the ranks

TORRINGTON – The stress of being a police officer can often be difficult and results in officers finding ways to help officers deal with it.

Torrington Police Chief William Baldwin went a step further this week, bringing in Addison, a year and a half old Labrador retriever mix, as the division’s newest member and therapy dog.

Addison’s supervisor is Officer Hannah Yabrosky, a four-year veteran of the department.

“She has been used as Addison’s dog handler and will use the dog for officer well-being and public relations,” Baldwin said of Yabrosky. “Addison will be with you on patrol.”

Therapy dogs, Baldwin said, have a proven track record of providing comfort and emotional support to individuals, especially officers, during stressful and critical events.

Torrington has two canine officers, Oscar Deloy and Oscar Loukas, who see and patrol the same police officer every day. Addison is not the same type of dog, Baldwin said, and is not used for typical canine officer jobs, such as securing evidence, detecting narcotics, arresting, or tracking down a missing person.

“He’ll be on patrol with Officer Yabrosky, but he’s not there for the same reasons,” the chief said. “It is used for crisis intervention, a mental health problem; When children go through a traumatic event, he will be there for things like that. He is also there to support the officials when they need him. “

The dog was donated to the Torrington Police Department through a program called Puppies Behind Bars, which was based out of New York City.

Alfanos Hyundai of Torrington is funding the program with US $ 3,500 for three years. “It is thanks to the generosity of the likes of Jon Alfano and the Alfano Auto Group who is Torrington Hyundai of 1445 East Main St. that programs like this can exist,” said Baldwin. “I appreciate your generous support.”

Addison was welcomed by officers and staff in the department, the boss said. “So far so good,” he said.

“When I proposed this program, I had an officer from Naugatuck come to the Board of Public Safety who is running the same therapy dog ​​program to speak to them,” Baldwin said. “When the board met his dog, there was a smile on all faces. It changed everyone’s behavior. “

Addison, he said, joins a growing list of law enforcement agencies using therapy dogs.

“The mental health and wellbeing of our officers and the Torrington community are of paramount importance, and this program is designed to help achieve that goal,” he said.

To prepare for Addison’s arrival, Yabrosky attended an intensive two-week program at Briarcliff Manor, NY. During this training she worked with a number of inmates in the Puppies Behind Bars program who are experienced in raising dogs from eight weeks of age.

“An integral part of this training is the ability to bridge the gap between inmates and law enforcement,” said Baldwin. “The training specifically teaches and trains the dog to interact with people who have experienced some form of crisis.”

The training, he said, not only teaches Yabrosky the skills to deal with the dog, but also to recognize people in crises and to use the dog for stressful situations. “The program will focus on both the well-being of officials and the well-being of the community, especially children in difficult situations,” said Baldwin.

The boss said Addison will also help officers interact with people facing a mental crisis. “This helps bring a sense of comfort and stability to those going through a potentially bad situation in their life,” said Baldwin.

“This is a program that I have long wanted to initiate for the benefit of our officers and have driven forward,” said Baldwin. “I think Addison is a great addition to the department.”