By Jessica Peralta
The Westminster Police Department is now getting regular visits from the “puppy truck.”
“Puppies always bring smiles to everybody’s face,” said Sgt. Kevin MacCormick.
The puppies are part of San Rafael-based Guide Dogs for the Blind‘s training program, which places young puppies in the homes of volunteer “puppy raisers” to teach the puppies basic obedience for about a year. At that point, the 13- to 15-month-olds are then picked up by the group for guidework training to officially prepare them for their future jobs as service dogs for the blind.
“They’re just normal people from every walk of life,” said MacCormick of the volunteers.
About seven months ago, while working patrol, MacCormick happened upon one of the group pick-ups/drop-offs at a local department store parking lot. He recognized the service vests on the dogs – his daughter also has a service dog for a cognitive disorder. He started talking with group members and learned that they make regular rounds all through Southern California and beyond picking up older dogs for further training, as well as dropping off 8-week-old puppies for volunteers.
To help the group find a safer area for the pick-ups and drop-offs, MacCormick arranged for them to move to the WPD station parking lot.
“We get officers to come down to meet them, make sure they’re safe,” he said.
And to play with the puppies.
“They always invite us to come up into the truck to see all the dogs they have, see the puppies,” he said.
On Feb. 25, about 50 people and 25 Labrador and golden retrievers gathered at the Westminster Civic Center lot. A few dogs were picked up for the next phase of their training, while four new puppies were delivered to puppy raisers.
“It’s very, very cool. It’s a neat thing,” MacCormick said, adding that the wife of one of their officers usually visits with their child just to see the puppies.
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