West Bay

Therapy dog hired to help young victims at Cranston PD, Hasbro

(WPRI) -- Cartoonist Charles M. Schultz said in one of his "Peanuts" cartoons that "happiness is a warm puppy."

A comforting dog will now be employed by the Cranston Police Department and Hasbro Children's Hospital to aid child victims of sexual and physical abuse.

Cali, a 13-week-old Labradoodle puppy, has already helped victims, though she is currently on a fast track to earn the badges she needs on the job. Those badges include the official Canine Good Citizen and Pet Partners certifications, as well as basic obedience training.

"Children often struggle emotionally after traumatic life experience, and dogs are incredibly therapeutic," Cranston Police Chief Col. Michael Winquist said as he introduced Cali Thursday morning.

Cali will split her weeks between the police department, under the supervision of Det. Michael Iacone, and the hospital, where she'll be under the supervision of Dr. Christine Barron. At both locations, she'll be tasked with fostering open conversations with child victims.

Winquist said Cali follows in the footsteps of a pair of canine officers from Greenfield, Mass., who were on hand Thursday to wish her well in her endeavors.

Officers Donut and Clarence, two Saint Bernards, work for what's believed to be the first police therapy dog program in the country established at the Greenfield police department. They've been traveling around the country for several years to lend their comforting aid after tragedies.

Winquist said Cali will be on hand to greet victims from the time they come to the police station, all the way through the interviewing process and leading up to preparing for courtroom testimony.

"It's hard enough to get children to come in here -- who have been victims of these traumatic experiences, to talk to us, to feel comfortable, and to feel safe -- when they come to the police station," Iacone said. "It's one more tool that we can use; they come here, they sit in our interview rooms, and Cali just sits in their lap -- they just pet her, and they just relax."

Cali's position was paid for by philanthropic funding.


More Stories

Meet the Team

Don't Miss