There’s a paw-some new addition to the UCF Police Department, and her name is Paisley.
Paisley is a two-year-old Treeing Walker Coonhound who is UCFPD’s first-ever therapy dog. She will help ease stress and comfort victims of violent crime during interviews and interactions with police.
Paisley, who is paired with UCFPD Detective Matt Scott, is the department’s latest effort to create an environment where victims of crimes such as sexual assault and stalking feel comfortable reporting to law enforcement. UCFPD believes that it is among the first campus police departments in the country with an in-house therapy dog.
“Paisley is going to be able to provide unconditional love, and victims will hopefully be able to get to a level of ease where they’re able to just disclose what occurred to them. Then we can go out and do our jobs,” Det. Scott said.
Paisley and Det. Scott are graduates of the Brevard County Sheriff’s Office’s Paws & Stripes College.
The idea for the program came from three-time UCF alumnus Jessie Holton, formerly a Special Victims Unit Agent with BCSO. The Marine veteran drew from his personal experience with a therapy dog for a doctoral class project and proposed the idea of a therapy dog program to assist child-abuse victims to his boss, Brevard County Sheriff Wayne Ivey.
That successful model evolved into Paws & Stripes, which now pairs shelter rescue dogs with trained inmates who teach them basic obedience and commands. After that socialization, dogs are paired with law enforcement officers, and the dog-human teams complete a 40-hour course about the do’s and don’ts of using a therapy dog in police interviews.
To date, more than 300 dogs have graduated and been saved by Paws & Stripes. The dogs go on to serve their communities and provide support to people who have experienced trauma.
Next up for Paisley and Det. Scott is completing the requirements for becoming a nationally-registered therapy dog team. Once the team receives that certification, Paisley will start to be deployed to help Knights in need.