MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The Anoka County Sheriff’s Office has a new tool to help ease tense situations — Sugar, the department’s community support canine. She’s a certified therapy dog, and she has a unique mission.

Many envision police K-9’s as growling and menacing, all business and nothing at all to mess with. Sugar, a 5-year-old yellow Labrador, isn’t out to apprehend, but instead to mend.

“There’s something about Sugar, she’s always been quiet, a quiet demeanor, she’s very calming, even in stressful situations,” officer Holly Schultz said.

Sugar was a New York guide dog before coming to Can Do Canines. Now, Schultz and her certified therapy dog will use her soothing demeanor to deescalate tense situations.

“I noticed that when people are suffering from anxiety or anything like that they’re drawn to her and start petting her, and before you know it their anxiety starts declining,” Schultz said.

It was her idea to establish a Community Support K-9 program with the Anoka County Sheriff’s Office.

Commander Paul Lenzmeier calls it a perfect union. They’ll use Sugar to ease anxiety and tension, from those affected by tragedy to someone dealing with a mental health crisis.

“If we’re able to bring Sugar into those situations and calm those thought processes down, those negative processes, we’re thinking we can instill little seeds of hope for that individual,” Lenzmeier said.

Hope and comfort when it’s needed most, from a dog whose disposition is as soft as her coat.

Schultz and Sugar will be on call and respond to incidents as needed. They hope the program inspires other’s in law enforcement to do the same.

Bill Hudson

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