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A military homecoming and an area sheriff’s office gets its first therapy dog top this week’s 850 Good News

Published: Apr. 16, 2021 at 7:00 AM CDT
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BAY COUNTY/LIBERTY COUNTY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - A military homecoming and an area sheriff’s office gets its first therapy dog top this week’s 850 Good News.

What started out as a normal day for the Long family soon turned into quite the surprise.

Staff Sergeant Dustin Long had been stationed overseas for the past year. Until Monday, when he was able to surprise his kids at their schools.

Sergeant Long visited his daughter Ansleigh first, and the tear-filled hug was a sigh of relief for the whole family.

“I’m just overwhelmed with emotion,” said Sergeant Long. “I really can’t explain it. Just overwhelmed with emotion. Just grateful.”

After seeing Ansleigh, the family headed off to share the same moment with brother Bryce at Deane Bozeman School.

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.

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 kids in March and she is already making 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.

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.

Like many others, a group of students from the University of Central Florida is spending spring break in the Panhandle. But, they aren’t on vacation.

This week, ten UCF students are in town with Mission850 to lend a helping hand to people still recovering from Hurricane Michael.

“Whether it’s standing up someone’s birdbath or whether it’s cutting someone’s tree down for them, it communicates to them that you’re worth it and you have dignity,” said Dot Wagner, Mission Coordinator for Mission850.

Mission850 officials said they’re looking to serve anyone who needs help. All you have to do is ask.

That wraps up this week’s 850 Good News.

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