THE NEWEST MEMBER of the Campus Safety team wags his tail lazily as he strolls across campus, pausing to have his back stroked or his ears scratched. But don’t be fooled—Officer Red Dogg is hard at work.
“He’s built more for comfort than speed at this point,” says Campus Safety Director Stan Skipworth, who adopted the 10-year-old beagle mix from a rescue organization, “but he is actually certified as an emotional support animal, and he’s had some modest training for that.”
Skipworth had been considering adding a canine to the staff, and when he happened onto Red, he decided it was worth a try. “He’s such a good-natured dog, and I thought it would be a nice way to build on our community-oriented policing policy.”
The response, he said, has been remarkable—and not just when Red is out patrolling, wearing his official ID collar and his Campus Safety insignia on a red-and-black bandanna. “We actually get several visitors a week who come here specifically to see Red and pet him, and then they go on to class,” Skipworth says.
Red really earns his keep, however, when people come to Campus Safety to make a report. “He doesn’t do real police work,” Skipworth says, “but he’s our official greeter, and when people who’ve had a bad experience come in to do a report, he comes and sits with them, and I think he makes a real difference.”