Newest Mo. deputy has the cutest puppy eyes
Mattis K. Nine will provide comfort to crime victims, children and the elderly during the tough times when deputies are called
By Kimball Perry
The Columbus Dispatch
COLUMBUS, Ohio — Franklin County's newest deputy carries no gun and isn't there to take a bite out of crime.
Instead, Mattis K. Nine will rely on his big brown eyes, laid-back personality, sweet face and general cuddliness to disarm others. He's one of the few therapy dogs used by law enforcement in the United States to help crime victims.
"He can bring comfort to people, probably changing the worst day of their lives," Deputy Darrah Metz said. "This is just a totally different aspect of our outreach."
Instead of helping sniff out lost people, drugs or explosives as many police dogs do, Mattis will provide comfort to crime victims, children and the elderly during the tough times when deputies are called. Mattis, a Labrador retriever, is the Sheriff's Office's first therapy dog.
"His purpose is to make people happy," Metz said. "We can just brighten their day a little bit by bringing him around."
Metz is assigned to the department's community relations department. She proposed getting a therapy dog once before, but it didn't happen.
After Sheriff Dallas Baldwin took office in January and changed some of the command structure, Metz approached her boss and pitched the idea again. Within two weeks, Mattis was on board. The puppy's training doesn't begin until April 17, so until then his only duties are to play, poop, eat and sleep. He has become the attraction of the building where community relations is housed.
Mattis has become such a canine rock star that he has his own Facebook page — facebook.com/mattisk9 — and already it's getting lots of attention.
His name was given to him as Metz watched a press conference featuring James Mattis, a retired U.S. Marine general and current U.S. Secretary of Defense.
The puppy will be 12 weeks old on Friday and he weighs 12 pounds. As an adult, the Labrador is expected to weight 85 pounds.
A donor gave the Sheriff's office $10,000. That was used to buy Mattis and reconfigure a cruiser to safety drive the puppy around. Hilliard's Petland, a chain of pet stores based in Chillicothe, is paying for the dog's food and supplies for life. His veterinary services and training also are being donated.
Mattis has to pass five phases of training and he's not expected to be on the job for nine months. "By the time he's one, he'll be ready to go," Metz said.
She envisions Mattis making children feel more comfortable around police, helping senior citizens smile, and reaching out to women inmates in a program designed to keep them from returning to jail.
"Who doesn't like a dog?" Metz asked.
"Let's be honest. In our climate today, anything we can do to bridge the gap with our community is going to be positive thing, whether it's handing out stickers or pencils or letting them love on a dog."
©2017 The Columbus Dispatch (Columbus, Ohio)