The Gloucester Police Department has added a new, four-legged member to the force and he’s about to do some paw-some things in the community.
Ace, a one-year-old English golden retriever, officially joined the department Friday. In his role, he will help with de-escalation of children in need, primarily those with ADD and ADHD, who are on the autism spectrum or who have various behavioral problems, according to police. He will also provide comfort to children who have experienced trauma and will visit Alzheimer’s patients at local nursing homes and senior centers.
Prior to joining the department, Ace was placed with a foster family, where he received his comfort dog training from Golden Opportunities for Independence in Walpole. Ace’s handler, Officer Peter Sutera, along with backup handlers Lt. Jeremiah Nicastro and School Resource Officer Michael Scola, will make up Ace’s squad.
Prior to joining the police department, Officer Sutera worked at a special education school, where he saw firsthand the impact comfort animals can have. “You could see an absolute change in the demeanor in the kids, from one day to the next, when they knew the dog was coming,” Sutera said. “It’s crazy the amount of support we’ve gotten through this whole process. I’m excited to start this work, this is going to be amazing.”
“Our mayor is a strong, strong advocate of mental health awareness, so when she heard about this dog and how we were going to use him, she was all in,” Lt. Nicastro said. “Ace will be a benefit and an asset to the community and help to continue building upon our relationship with residents. Ace is going to be very happy here.”
It cost $16,000 to bring Ace to the Gloucester Police Department, an expense that was funded, in its entirety, by donations. The Doug Flutie Jr. Foundation for Autism helped to cover the initial cost of purchasing Ace and now the department is hosting fundraisers to repay the organization for its kindness. The department has also created a GoFundMe page for this purpose.
(PHOTO: Gloucester Police Department)