Groton police get new service dog

New London

There’s a new member of the Groton Police Department who is making friends wherever he goes and he’s now part of team “Mac and Mac.”

McDonald is officer Heather McClelland’s new partner.

“I think there’s something that a dog brings that you just can’t. You can’t put your finger on it and no human can replicate that,” said McClelland.

The two-year-old Labrador Retriever is a service dog donated by “Puppies Behind Bars” a New York City non-profit which uses inmates to train the pups for some pretty important work.

Related: Prison inmates raising puppies to become service dogs

“His training is essentially to assist with service members and officers and first responders with PTSD,” said McClelland.

From the dispatchers who sometimes deal with people at their most stressful times to Groton Police Chief L.J. Fusaro who has lost friends and colleagues to suicide – they are all happy to have this newest member.

“Over the course of time develop a lot of traumas they’ve experienced,” explained Chief Fusaro. “You know those little micro traumas.”

McClelland has already seen positive effects of her new partner. “I mean with me absolutely,” she said with a laugh.

The service dog is named after late New York City detective Steven McDonald. He was shot back in 1986 and later died in 2017 from complications related to those injuries early in his career.

“Detective McDonald decided that shortly after his son was born while he was a quadriplegic that he was going to go out and forgive the person who did this to him and that message carried throughout his whole life,” said Chief Fusaro.

Canine McDonald’s service will go beyond the police department out to the community for others who may have experienced trauma or might just need some comfort.

Groton is one of the first police departments to use a service dog to help staff and others in the community. McDonald is also an ambassador of sorts.

“Having him is just an automatic ice-breaker,” said McClelland.

Building better relations with the wag of a tail.

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