Sheriff’s Office welcomes first therapy dog

Published 12:10 am Saturday, September 30, 2023

SALISBURY — The Rowan County Sheriff’s Office now has a therapy dog. Sandy, a golden retriever, is the first therapy dog in the county’s K9 police force.

Sandy completed her therapy dog training at Tractor Supply on Friday along with her handler Deputy Chris Fleming. According to Captain David Earnhardt, who works in the sheriff’s office, now that Sandy has passed her therapy dog certification she will begin her job, where she will work in both outreach and in therapy for deputies.

The certification testing was held in Tractor Supply as a way for the tester to tell if the dog was well-behaved even in the presence of other dogs and a large amount of people. Sandy was trained by a private dog trainer before being presented to Fleming a week before the certification testing in order to allow them time to bond.

Earnhardt said that Sandy will mostly work in outreach. Her therapy dog status will allow her to support child victims of crimes, stressed first-time offenders, go to schools and help students and anyone else who may need her support. Sandy will also be available to support any deputies who may need emotional support.

The Salisbury North Carolina Kennel Club has donated around $6,000 in order to pay for Sandy, who was purchased from a golden retriever breeder, and for Sandy’s training to become certified. Salisbury NC Kennel Club President Bob Busby said that that number is not the final cost, as there is still more training for both Sandy and Fleming.

“We knew they needed one. I was talking to Captain Earnhardt, and we were talking about Magnolia, the bloodhound. We sponsored her, and then we were talking about their needs as a department and we realized that they also needed a therapy dog,” said Busby.