Campus Safety has hired a four-legged staff member: an officer named Red Dogg.
Dogg, a 10-year-old Beagle mix rescued from Kentucky, lives at the Campus Safety office and keeps a casual schedule, according to Campus Safety Director Stan Skipworth.
“As the newest member of our staff, Red has a range of job duties,” Skipworth wrote in an email to TSL. “These include serving as an ambassador to promote our goal of connecting with the campus community on a more personal level. He has also been tasked with providing pet therapy services and stress relief to anyone in need.”
Dogg also serves as a comforting friend to students who are homesick and miss their loved ones. He typically has several visitors a day and also takes friendly patrols around the 5Cs.
“Red serves as a surrogate to those students who have a beloved family member (human or pet) back home that they might miss,” Skipworth wrote. “Red offers the opportunity for some special time and attention.”
That time and attention extends to his fellow employees, too.
“He’s a fun co-worker to have around,” said Leila Bartholet PZ ’18, who works at Campus Safety. “I think he will be effective in providing emotional support for the 5C community.”
Dogg is an Americans with Disabilties Act Title ll and lll Emotional Support Animal. These animals are often used as part of a medical treatment plan, providing companionship and helping those with mental health issues.
Emotional support animals do not require any specialized training and are protected under the Fair Housing Act and the Air Carriers Access Act. People with emotional support dogs can live with them even when landlords have rules against having pets, and can bring them on flights without paying any additional fees.
Emotional support certification does not require animals to be able to perform specific tasks, which means all domesticated animals can qualify to be emotional support animals, including miniature horses. One student at Washington State University brought a 95-pound pig into the residence hall, which stayed in the student's dorm room in a litter box.
The idea for a Campus Safety dog was introduced by Skipworth, whose children discovered Dogg at a local shelter.
“I had the idea that, because of Red’s endearing personality and easygoing manner, working at Campus Safety would be a great opportunity for both him and the campus community,” Skipworth wrote. “We are absolutely thrilled with how well Red has already connected with the campus, and we look forward to him making many, many more friends in the future.”
Most students have been overwhelmingly supportive of the new hire, and even those who aren't can find some good in it.
Ben Miller PZ ’19 thinks Officer Dogg’s presence is “unnecessary.”
“Aren’t pets inherently for emotional support in the first place?” Miller said. “But I think dogs are just good for everyone, so I don’t have a problem with it.”
Staff at Campus Safety keep a Twitter account for Dogg at the handle @WonderDoggRed, where students and other interested parties can stay up to date on his whereabouts and inform themselves about safety issues on campus.