Morton County Sheriff's Office announces addition of Therapy K9


Morton County Sheriff’s Office announces addition of Therapy K9


MANDAN, ND – The Morton County Sheriff’s Office is pleased to announce it is adding a therapy K9 to the agency to enhance interactions within its communities and existing partnerships.

The dog is being donated by Montana Goldendoodles and Labradoodles, a breeder in Great Falls, Montana whose owner has a family connection to law enforcement and is eager to be a part of bringing a goldendoodle into public service.

All veterinarian services are being donated by New Salem Veterinary Clinic in New Salem, and Hill’s Science Diet is providing biology-based nutrition at no cost for the new puppy. In addition, PetSmart is offering its multi-session therapy dog training at a reduced rate which will culminate with American Kennel Club Good Citizen certification.

The breeder has generously offered to donate the litter’s top dog based on observation and temperament testing of the puppies. Once that has been determined, MCSO will consider names for the canine. The therapy K9 is expected to arrive in July 2022 and immediately begin training for its new role at MCSO.

Deputy David Tomlinson, MCSO Student Resource Officer, will be the therapy K9’s handler and will primarily use the dog within Morton County schools to assist students who suffer from anxiety, trauma or those who may simply respond better to a situation with the presence of pet therapy.

“Students who experience a variety of trauma or abuse can certainly benefit, but also those who are simply struggling with stress from a rough day at home or with their peers,” Tomlinson said. “Therapy dogs are trained to provide victims with an outlet from the mental, physical, or psychological effects of these types of scenarios and their effectiveness is being proven across the country.”

There are nearly 400 law enforcement agencies in the U.S. that utilize therapy dogs, when just a few years ago there were only a half dozen. The therapy dogs are yet another innovative tool for assistance and community engagement to Morton County communities.

MCSO chose the goldendoodle breed due to its loyalty and human fondness of a retriever and the high intelligence of a poodle, while also being hypoallergenic.

Although the therapy K9 will primarily serve students in Morton County schools, MCSO will also deploy the dog for partner agencies as appropriate, and to fatal accidents and other traumatic incidents where it can comfort victims and first responders.

“There are many incidents where a therapy dog will be valuable to victims and their family members,” said Morton County Sheriff Kyle Kirchmeier. “We’re committed to building stronger, healthier communities because when that happens, it’s better for everyone. People seek the help they need, crime goes down, and families, schools and businesses are safer.”

MCSO plans to continue specialized training in 2023 through accredited therapy K9 programs. The handler and canine will learn advanced obedience techniques, behavioral observation training, investigative and interview techniques, as well as learn best practices from other therapy K9 programs.

The goldendoodle will be the first certified law enforcement therapy canine in a sheriff’s office in North Dakota.