The Massachusetts State Police recently acquired an English Black Labrador as the first-ever comfort dog. Luna, who is 4 months old and was bred for comfort dog work and donated to the Department, is assigned to the Employee Assistance Unit (EAU).
Trooper Chad Tata of the EAU is Luna’s handler. Luna lives with Trooper Tata and his family and goes to work with him every day. She will be used to reduce stress and promote wellness and healing for first responders and their families after a traumatic incident, and eventually Luna will also be working with civilian victims and survivors. A gentle, docile and playful dog, she brings a comforting presence and commands smiles in any room she enters.
“Luna is going to be a great asset to our unit and to the Department,” Trooper Tata said.
Trooper Tata is training with Luna one-on-one every day; she will eventually receive certification as a therapy dog through the Alliance of Therapy Dogs.
“She is part of my day-to-day routine, as well as responding to all my call outs,” Trooper Tata said. “She will attend all debriefings that I am invited to, as well as coming with me to the office. It is important to get Luna around as many people on our job as possible.”
Eventually, Luna will be able to travel to incidents with Trooper Tata not only throughout Massachusetts, but also out-of-state to assist at mass casualty incidents as needed.
Luna responded to her first call-out last week with Trooper Tata, assisting Springfield Police Officers who were involved in responding to an altercation outside a nightclub on April 14. One of the officers was shot twice and survived. Luna’s calming presence was a great benefit to the officers involved in the incident.
“Luna is the first ever comfort dog to serve with the Massachusetts State Police and she is a welcome addition to our fundamental mission — to help people in need,” said Colonel Kerry Gilpin. “We know all too well the devastating effects of traumatic stress, and we are fortunate to have Luna available to first responders, their family members, and other victims in need of support.”
Lt. James Massari, commander of the EAU, noted that high stress causes the body to increase production of cortisol, a hormone. Increased cortisol can cause a host of serious health problems. Comfort dogs have been show to lower cortisol levels.
Luna was generously donated to the State Police by Peggi and David Brogan of Boonefield Labradors in Rindge, N.H. Boonefield Labradors are known for their calm temperaments and sweet personalities.