Teddy the Terp is short, friendly and chocolate brown — and he’s the newest member of the University of Maryland-College Park’s police department.
Teddy is a chocolate Labrador, and he has a special assignment as a comfort K-9 on the force.
“He has these amazing green eyes,” said Maj. Carolyn Consoli, who runs the department’s comfort dog program. “Who wouldn’t love him?”
The department recently acquired the 4-month-old pure bred. He will undergo one year of obedience and comfort training to help people dealing with anxiety, depression or trauma.
After his training is complete, officers will take him on tough assignments, such as suicide calls, said Chief David Mitchell.
“He’ll be able to detect somebody that’s under stress,” Mitchell said. “You can imagine someone, who’s unfortunately the victim of a crime, when we visit with Teddy, it’s going to say we care about you.”
The department modeled its nascent comfort dog program after the University of Maryland-Baltimore County’s program. Mitchell said having Teddy aboard is just the beginning.
“We’re working on a program, where we will respond to mental health concerns with a trained psychologist or mental health worker,” Mitchell said.
The department is now considering bringing in a second therapy dog.
Master Police Officer Melissa Fischer is Teddy’s handler. She walks him around campus to get him acclimated to the grounds and the students. She also takes him to university events.
Officers have started passing out baseball cards with the pup’s picture and things he likes to do on campus.
“It is an introduction to the comfort dog in case students need to puppy love,” Consoli said.
Officers say Teddy will most likely get the most calls for comfort as midterm and final exams draw near. Teddy also has an email address, and students will be able to request him.
“We have 40,000 students, around midterms and exams, I promise you they’re stressed out,” Mitchell said. “When you have Teddy with you, they want to come over and say, ‘Hey, let me pet your dog.’”