The Byers School District 32-J and the Deer Trail 26J School District are getting their very first school therapy dog, an 8-week-old black Labrador puppy named Otis. K9 Otis will be teamed up with School Resource Officer Deputy Drew Matthews who’s been an SRO at Byers and Deer Trail Schools for two years and with the Sheriff’s Office for 13 years. Deputy Matthews also graduated from Byers Senior High School. He and Otis will divide their time between the two K-12 schools in Byers and Deer Trail.
Meanwhile, the Cherry Creek School District is getting its second school therapy dog, an 8-week-old chocolate Lab named Bear. K9 Bear will be teamed up with Deputy Candace Gray, who is the first female K9 handler in the history of the Sheriff’s Office. She’s been an SRO for four years and with the ACSO for 16 years. She’s currently assigned to Cherry Creek Academy. Next year however, Deputy Gray and Bear will divide their time between all the Cherry Creek Schools in unincorporated Arapahoe County and Centennial. Deputy Gray is married to Deputy John Gray, the K9 handler for Rex, our very first therapy dog. Deputy John Gray and Rex work in the Littleton Elementary Schools.
Otis and Bear are our 4th and 5th school therapy dogs. They will join Rex, Zeke and Riley. All five Labs come from the same breeder. The Arapahoe County Sheriff’s Office now has more school therapy dogs than any other law enforcement agency in the State of Colorado. Otis and Riley will bring comfort to all types of students, including those with special needs. The dogs help to reduce stress in times of crisis and assist those who suffer from anxiety or depression.
“We are so proud of the partnerships we have with all these school districts. These dogs are helping kids in ways we couldn’t have imagined. They’re making a huge impact in their mental health and touching lives in very positive and meaningful ways,” says Sheriff Tyler Brown.