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Sherwood Police and the community welcome a comfort canine to the department.

PHOTOS COURTESY OF SHERWOOD POLICE DEPARTMENT - Milagro joined the Sherwood Police force as a comfort K-9. Sherwood takes care of its own – in a comforting, big, furry way.

After a traumatic and challenging year for the police and the community, in October, Sherwood residents Dave and Michele Green made a donation of a big-pawed black lab puppy as a police comfort dog.

Her name is Milagro, which means "miracle," in Spanish. She goes by "Mila."

Sherwood Police Chief Jeff Groth said "It started on Christmas night 2016, when three of our officers were involved in the life-saving rescue of Oregon State Patrol Trooper Nic Cederberg," As they approached Trooper Cederberg they were confronted by his assailant, who was set-up in an ambush position. Then in October Sherwood Police officers responded to the tragic death of a 4-year-old boy."

PHOTOS COURTESY OF SHERWOOD POLICE DEPARTMENT - Milagro 'Mila'  joined the Sherwood Police force as a comfort K-9.
Recent incidents have cemented the need for an interruption from the cycle of stress that accompanies first-responder work.

Mila will also serve as a community ambassador.

Mila is an addition to the existing K-9 program and will be a comfort K-9 for the department. She will be performing job tasks similar to a certified therapy dog. She will provide comfort for victims of crime, members of the community who have experienced trauma and members of the police department who are experiencing trauma.

Mila suffered trauma of her own. Just after Mila was born she had to have emergency surgery and the Greens weren't sure she would survive – but she beat the odds and she now loves her new job.

Groth said statistically it has been a busy year as they have seen a steady increase in calls for service, but more than that, it has been a tough year emotionally.

"Incidents like these take their toll on victims, community members and your police officers, and it is imperative that we have resources and programs in place to address the long-term trauma associated with such occurrences," Groth said. "In the old days officers were told to just deal with it as it was just part of the job. Well, that didn't work then, and still doesn't, and anyone who would suggest that is out-of-touch. We provide equipment to protect the body, and we must provide resources to protect the mind and soul."

This is where Mila comes in, according to Sherwood Police Public Information Officer Ty Hanlon. Mila is a Labrador puppy that was born and raised in Sherwood with a loving family that is dedicated to supporting local law enforcement. They generously donated Mila to the police department because they were aware of the challenges officers face.

Mila has a lot of hard work and training ahead of her in preparation for her career as a Comfort K-9. She is currently in an intensive training program that will last for 18 to 24 months and will then be in ongoing training for the duration of her career. Mila will be in and out of the station during her training program and will get to spend several days a month at the station, getting to know members of the police department. Once her initial training is complete she will live in the police department and be available all hours of the day to comfort those in need. Mila will also be available for community members to stop in and meet her and learn more about her training and program.

Hanlon said Mila is already becoming part of the family and everybody perks up when they hear her walking down the hall. "We are embracing her as a community dog," Hanlon said.

Mila's training costs were generously covered by the Sherwood Police Foundation and community members are welcome to support her training program by donating to the Sherwood Police Foundation at sherwoodpolicefoundation.org. A local veterinarian is taking care of any medical needs for a percentage off of regular fees and Nature's Pet has donated food for life for Mila.

By Mandy Feder-Sawyer
Reporter, Beaverton Valley Times
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