SOUTH KINGSTOWN, R.I. (WPRI) — The South Kingstown Police Department is welcoming its newest four-legged recruit.
Leo, a 10-week-old Bernedoodle puppy, was sworn in as the department’s first-ever compassion dog Thursday morning.
He will serve as a support dog for first responders and help assist the police department with outreach to children, seniors, victims of crime and as needed for crisis response in the community.
“Studies show that a dog’s presence can help lower blood pressure and reduce anxiety, making Leo capable of doing work that few humans can accomplish,” South Kingstown Police Chief Matthew Moynihan said. “Our officers’ well-being is paramount, and we will be asking Leo to serve as a wellness ambassador in the department and a compassion dog in our town. He has town-wide jurisdiction, and we know he is up to the task.”
Moynihan said there was “overwhelming” community interest in the new puppy and the department received thousands of name suggestions.
In the end, the department chose Leo because it’s an acronym for Law Enforcement Officer.
“We particularly liked it because it recognizes that he is an important member of our team,” Moynihan said.
AT&T provided funding to support the department’s new compassion dog program as part of the company’s commitment to the health and wellness of first responders.
Leo will regularly work alongside Officer Bryan Monte, a community resource officer and a 6-year veteran of the force.