NORFOLK, Va. - The Norfolk Police Department now have a four-legged friend trained to serve and support the emotional needs of officers.
Lilly is a Labrador retriever who now has become Hampton Road’s first certified law enforcement facility dog.
The Norfolk Police Department was gifted Lilly from Mutts with a Mission, a local non-profit organization based in Portsmouth that specializes in training dogs to serve the needs of veterans, wounded warriors, and first responders.
Over the past two years, Lilly has received specialized training and graduated from Mutts with a Mission, an Assistance Dogs International accredited organization. Lilly’s successful completion of the ADI Public Access Test and Skills Test allows her to work with Norfolk officers and professional staff members throughout the department following stressful situations, counseling sessions, interviews, and roll calls as a facility dog.
Officer John Hines, Lilly’s handler, is assigned to the Peer Support Unit and has trained alongside her with the trainers from Mutts with a Mission. Lilly accompanies Officer Hines everywhere he goes during his daily duties and lives with him full-time.
“Lilly and I have learned a lot about each other these past two months,” said Officer Hines. “Its amazing to watch officers react to her when she walks into a room. No matter what is going or how stressful things may be at that moment, the atmosphere in the room changes. This gives the officers an opportunity to pause and collect themselves emotionally.”
Mutts with a Mission selected Lilly specifically for the Norfolk Police Department due to her sweet temperament and sociable demeanor. Lilly currently knows 40 commands and has adjusted well to her family of 800 plus officers and professional staff members.
“There’s nothing like the support of a dog following a difficult day,” said Chief Larry D. Boone. “As a former K-9 officer, I enjoyed the companionship of a full-time partner. I look forward to seeing my officers experience that same joy and the benefits it will have on their well-being."