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Therapy K9 Unit, Franklin County Sheriff’s Office

2020 Allied Professional Award | National Crime Victims' Service Awards
Watch the tribute video

Therapy K9 Unit, Franklin County Sheriff’s Office | Allied Professional Award
Columbus, Ohio

In March 2017, Sheriff Dallas Baldwin created the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office (FCSO) Therapy Dog (K9) program, with the goal of improving relations between local law enforcement and the community, while supporting crime victims as they seek justice. The program now consists of three officers and their canines: Lt. Mike D’Errico and Woody (an Australian labradoodle), Sgt. Jason Ratcliff and Kit (an American standard poodle), and Deputy Darrah Metz and Mattis (an English Labrador retriever). 

The Therapy K9 unit has assisted hundreds of victims of crime, as they navigate their way to justice and healing—from the initial investigation, through therapy and prosecution. Trauma can be difficult for victims to acknowledge and discuss. The FCSO Therapy K9 unit has provided much needed comfort to crime victims, helping to lessen their distress, anxiety, and retraumatization, to allow healing to begin, while also reinforcing law enforcement’s commitment to protect and serve. 

Deputy Metz relays that the Therapy K9 unit gives “hope to the hopeless and a voice to the voiceless.” The Columbus-area community appreciates FCSO’s victim advocacy work so much that donations from community partners are the sole funding source for the Therapy K9 program, including training, veterinary care, grooming, boarding, food, and other supplies. 

Key program partners include Franklin County Children’s Services, Nationwide Children’s Hospital, the Center for Family Safety and Healing, the Franklin County Prosecutor’s Office, and others. In its first 2 years, the work of the FCSO Therapy K9 program has transcended the borders of Franklin County and Ohio to become a model for many other law enforcement agencies in the United States that wish to expand their vision of policing to reach and assist victims of crime. 

Willing to share their success with others, the FCSO Therapy K9 unit hosted a Law Enforcement Therapy K9 School in 2019, where nine handlers from four law enforcement agencies received a free, week-long training focused on dog handling, policies, operating procedures, and developing partnerships with local organizations.

2020 National Crime Victims' Service Awards Tribute Video

Watch this video to learn more about the Therapy K9 Unit, Franklin County Sheriff’s Office, 2020 recipient of the Allied Professional Award.