Meet Leo! The newest member of the Sioux Falls Police Department

Leo the therapy dog joins the Sioux Falls Police Department. (Source: KSFY)
Published: Apr. 27, 2023 at 11:27 AM CDT
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - Leo is a 14-week-old golden retriever, and is the latest addition to the Sioux Falls Police Force, serving as a therapy dog.

Police Chief Jon Thum introduced the pup at Thursday’s police briefing.

The therapy dog can help people feel more at ease when interacting with police and provide comfort during difficult times.

“Law enforcement is a demanding profession, and we’re always looking for new ways to provide support to our officers, the people, and the victims that we work with,” Thum said.

In Sioux Falls, the therapy dog will be used mostly for the well-being of officers but will also take part in community activities like school events, block parties, and court.

“A lot of the time, kids want to talk about our dogs or see our dogs, but our working dogs aren’t the best mix for that. A golden retriever like Leo has a nice temperament and will be trained and certified to be a therapy dog. He’ll be able to handle those situations,” Thum said.

Leo began therapy dog training six weeks ago with Maggie Pearson, the owner of Tenacious Dog Training. However, she tells us the training process truly begins with the breeder.

“Introduce dogs to novel things as they’re developing so that they learn that new equals good. Then when I get him I also work on exposing him to everything he’s going to encounter,” Pearson said.

There were many names considered, and Leo stuck out because it means brave and lion-hearted. It is also the acronym for law enforcement officers.