Assistance dog on the way for Wareham’s school resource officer
The Wareham Police will soon have a new canine member — although rather than sniffing out illicit substances, the dog will be helping School Resource Officer Karl Baptiste in his daily work connecting with students.
Baptiste has served as the town’s school resource officer for 11 years, and has been with the police department for the past 28 years.
He will soon be trained and placed with an assistance dog who will become his “daily partner” at the schools, Baptiste wrote on his fundraiser page for NEADS. NEADS is the organization that is training the dog.
“My K9 partner will have had two years of extensive training to assist me in my daily duties of greeting students, maintaining positive interactions, having better success of positive contact with more socially closed off students and the de-escalation of certain situations,” Baptiste wrote.
Baptiste noted that many of Wareham’s roughly 3,000 students deal with tough circumstances, like anxiety, self-harm, substance abuse, bullying, poor self-esteem, an unstable home life or truancy. Many are in special education.
Baptiste said he and the dog will make regular visits to classrooms, civic groups and to homeschooled children.
“I have seen these incredible assistance dogs at work many times in many settings,” Baptiste wrote. “I am no less amazed each time I see them work their magic. They have a way of communicating that we as human beings cannot achieve ourselves.”
Baptiste said that it costs NEADS about $45,000 to train each dog. In addition to assistance dogs like the one that will work with Baptiste, NEADS trains dogs to work with veterans, people who are hard of hearing or deaf, children and adults with physical disabilities and children with autism.
Baptiste initially set out to raise $8,000 for the organization — a goal he surpassed in six hours.
By Jan. 3, the fundraiser had raised $13,748.
To donate, go to https://support.neads.org/fundraiser/3628696.