CLEVELAND (WJW) – A Northeast Ohio man, who calls himself an animal behaviorist, is raising specially trained therapy dogs that he then donates to local police departments.
When FOX 8 caught up with Rick Seyler on Tuesday, a small puppy was sitting inside a tool bag that Seyler had slung over his shoulder at work.
Seyler says the puppy, named Queso, is his constant companion, which according to Seyler is comforting as he copes with the effects of PTSD.
“From the time that I was a child in an abusive situation, dogs did nothing but help me. So for me to be enabled through trial and tribulation, through a childhood of abuse, to able to take that and strengthen and re-give and teach other people how to give that love to the community is a full circle and that’s what we need to do,” said Seyler.
The time that Seyler spends with Queso is part of a training regimen to help the puppy grow up to be a therapy dog.
“We desensitize the dogs to noises, to environment, to atmospheres, to conditions, to socialize the dog to everything a person might come into contact with,” he said.
When dogs like Queso are ready, Seyler donates them, free of charge, as community K-9s to Northeast Ohio police departments.
Seyler says he started his Silver Bullet K-9 Service Ministry to provide the comfort dogs to officers trying to cope with difficult days on the job.
“So that the person has their battle buddy with them and it’s a redirection tool. They use it for redirection, refocusing, re-zeroing, right? So you’ve got something on your mind, it’s the dog, rather than whatever else is going on,” he said.
Among the donated comfort dogs is Grace, the newest canine officer on the University Circle Police Department.
Grace’s partner, Sergeant Kurt Keeper, says the yellow lab has not only become a member of his family, she has broken down barriers between the department and the community, as evidenced by the warm reception she received while on duty at the Feast of the Assumption in Little Italy over the weekend.
“She brings smiles to people’s faces. They love to see Grace and Grace, I’m sure, loves to see them,” Keeper said.
Seyler says that reaction means that his formula is working.
“Subconsciously, you know, just petting the dog changes the endorphins in your mind. You can’t be happy and sad at the same time, just why not just have a little bit of love and be happy?” he said.