Sterling Police Department to bring on new comfort dog this week

Brinkley, Sterling Police Department’s current comfort dog, retiring June 12

STERLING — As its current comfort dog prepares for retirement, the Sterling Police Department’s new comfort dog will be picked up from Harvestime Kennel in Menasha, Wisconsin, on Friday, April 19. The new comfort dog is being brought on as Brinkley, Sterling PD’s current comfort dog, and her handler, Community Service Officer Tekla Martin, are set to retire on June 12.

Martin has posted a photo of the new puppy on Brinkley’s Facebook page, where community members have been able to vote on her name. Options have included Millie, in honor of Sterling’s manufacturing history; Rosie, in memory of Roswell Champion, the justice of the peace for Sterling in 1869; Dillon; and Morgie. Millie was in the lead Tuesday afternoon, Martin said.

“The new puppy will have big shoes to fill,” Martin said in an interview with Shaw Local.

The new puppy’s handler will be Community Service Officer Mary Toth. The department is planning to hold a meet-and-greet event at PetSmart, a sponsor of the department’s Community Service Dog program, so that community members can meet the puppy.

Brinkley became Sterling PD’s community service dog on Feb. 27, 2017. Throughout her years of service, she has eased the fear of entrapped accident victims; been a comfort to children at April House, Whiteside County’s child advocacy center; and put a smile on everyone’s face at various community events, Martin said.

At the Sterling City Council’s April 15 meeting, Mayor Diana Merdian read a National Therapy Animal Day proclamation in honor of Brinkley and Martin. It was the first time a proclamation has been made of the day for Brinkley’s service, Martin said.

“I like to say that we try to honor Brinkley every day because her work is amazing, and we always feel like we really need to reward her for what she does,” Martin said.

National Therapy Animal Day is April 30. It was created by Pet Partners to honor therapy animals who partner with their handlers to bring comfort and healing to those in need.

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Payton Felix

Payton Felix

Payton Felix reports on local news in the Sauk Valley for the Shaw Local News Network. She received her Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Illinois at Chicago in May of 2023.