Police K9 officer visits Burlington City schools to help students learn to read
Students at a Burlington City school have a new four-legged friend to help them learn.
“It’s probably the best assignment I’ve ever had in the entire time I’ve been a police officer,” says School Resource Officer Dan Pascal.
Pascal walks the hallways of Samuel Smith Elementary School with K9 Officer Sully by his side. Officer Sully is a 9-month-old black lab.
The dog is not there to patrol, but to listen. One of Sully’s jobs is to help kids feel comfortable reading out loud.
“Every morning or afternoon that he’s here…everybody is smiling. They’re happy. The anxiety rolls off their shoulders and they just want to greet him,” says Jacquelene O'Brien, director of child study team for City of Burlington Schools.
Police and the school district are working together to bring Sully into schools. The district says that this program is needed with the COVID-19 pandemic easing and kids returning to the classroom.
"We have a lot of students that are in distress just coming into the school each morning, so Sully is able to provide that emotional support to students,” O’Brien says.
Sully will not only be at the two elementary schools in the district, but also at the intermediate and high schools.
"What it's going to do for autistic kids, kids with behavioral issues, temper tantrums - things like that. So he can come in and take over and help them calm down,” Pascal says.
The City of Burlington Police Department says that it is hoping that Sully will help build relationships between students and their officers.