I talked with Dep. Darrah Metz at Fam Jam 2019.
Tell me about the dogs.
These guys are trained as therapy K-9s. We have been doing this program since March, 2017. Mattis was our first. We were the first in the state. There are only 6 in the country. We built our program from scratch. We focus on victim advocacy, mental health and trauma. We work a lot with victims of crime, those suffering from mental health illnesses, and/or maybe in crisis. Also, the lingering effects of trauma. For example, victims during a trial, a court case, a counseling session, etc. Our job is to interact in the moment to reduce stress and anxiety. We are the first in the state to have 3 dogs. We can account for about 70 agencies across our country that have implemented this program. It is spreading, but when you consider that there are over 18,000 law enforcement agencies in America, still 70 is a small number. Our goal is to get the mission out. Policing isn’t the same as it was 5 years ago. We have to do better in our communities and meeting our communities half way. This is one of the ways we chose to do that at the Sheriff’s office.
How many people do you service?
I have over 500 hours of dedicated service with Mattis. I have been requested to do deployments with Mattis close to 300 times. If you multiply that by 3, we are getting up there and we are only in August. The fact that 1000 hours are being donated through our county to make our county better, our community feel safer and to make kids more resilient. That is what it is all about.
Are these your personal dogs?
They are owned by the Sheriff’s office. Mattis and Woodie were donated from breeders. Seargent Radcliff’s dog Kid, the standard poodle, is a trained therapy dog of his own. He donated her to the Sheriff’s office. Upon the dog’s retirement, Sheriff Baldwin will allow us to buy them for $1.
Surely the dogs don’t live at the Sheriff’s office.
They come home with us. They are with us 24/7. All their food, vet care, grooming and supplies are donated by community partnerships. We couldn’t do what we do without the community.
When they are off duty, are they just regular dogs?
When I go home, I take Mattis’ uniform off (his vest and his collar), my exact words are, “go be a dog.” I have another dog at home. They are thick as thieves. They play for hours. We all do a good job of keeping that balance for them.
If someone wants to donate or volunteer, how do they contact you?
Go to the Sheriff’s website. Click on programs, then therapy dog program and an email will be sent directly to our Sergeant. Here is the link: https://sheriff.franklincountyohio.gov/Programs/Therapy-Dog-Program
Sidebar: I am a dog lover! It was priceless seeing children interact with the K9 unit.