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Liberty County Sheriff’s Office welcomes the first therapy K-9 to the panhandle

Therapy K-9 Anna began working with the children in March of 2021.
Therapy K-9 Anna began working with the children in March of 2021.(WJHG)
Published: Apr. 13, 2021 at 5:45 PM CDT
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LIBERTY COUNTY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - Liberty County Sheriff’s Sergeant Chad Smith got the idea for a K-9 Program for the Liberty County School District a few months back.

“We have a number of students who go through crisis and this may be a tool to help with that as well as an investigative tool for children who are reluctant to talk,” Sergeant Smith said.

Two-year-old Blue Heeler Anna was donated by the Brevard County Sheriff’s Office Paws and Stripes Program.

Sergeant Smith and Anna began working with the children in March of this year and she is already making quite a difference.

”We visit classrooms, I deploy her with children who are going through a crisis that is not violent to see if we can reduce their anxiety or bring their problems down, and she has already done a good job, and outstanding job at that,” Sergeant Smith said.

Anna has started to build positive interactions with the students and staff.

“It opens up that line of the communication. It kind of takes the anxiety of the uniform and the badge away so that we can talk and have that open line of communication,” Sergeant Smith said.

Sergeant Smith tells us he is already seeing the positive impacts of Anna on the student’s anxiety, stress, communication, and overall peace of mind. The students would say the same.

”And whenever Anna comes in, she makes me feel more confident that I can do my test very well and makes me release my stress off my shoulders,” Liberty County School Student Joely Bennett said.

Sergeant Smith adds that once Anna’s uniform comes off, just like any other dog, she likes to roll in the mud, play fetch, and be a dog.

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