This story has been updated.
Clarkston, GA — The click-clack of puppy paws are heard at the Clarkston Police Department as the newest member of the department makes her rounds to visit the officers and runs around the hallways almost every day.
Sgt. Dustin Bulcher was flagged down one day toward the beginning of the month by a resident who said someone had dropped a box of puppies off at the Chevron gas station on Church Street. Bulcher and another officer found three puppies and were able to catch two of them.
“I was able to get two of them, the other one I couldn’t find. I got them, put them in the back of the police car and brought them here to the police department,” Bulcher said. “I was trying to see if I could take her home as my pet, but I got a no for that.”
One puppy went home with an officer, and as the day progressed a few other officers tried to take the second puppy home. They tried to find a foster home for her, but by the end of the day, the officers had the idea to make the puppy the department’s mascot.
“I said, you know what, hold on a minute. Let me go talk to our City Manager, Robin Gomez,” Clarkston Police Chief Criss Hudson said. “I went over there, and I told him, I said ‘Hey listen, we found this dog, what do you think about us keeping [her] as like our mascot or a community relations dog?'”
“It builds a relationship and rapport with us and the community, police and civilians. It makes us more approachable,” Bulcher added.
He agreed, and now the police department has a community relations dog. The puppy is affectionately known as Officer Donut. She was sworn in on Aug. 2.
The police have been told that Donut is a mix of a German shepherd and great dane and is a few months old. She has huge paws and long legs that she trips over often when running around.
“She gets a case of zoomies all over the place,” Bulcher said.
Officers decided to get the community involved in naming Donut. A vote was taken among the police and the top two names were then voted on through Facebook. The top names were Donut and Clarke.
Donut stays with Detective Alberta Fountain. The department is taking care of all the vet bills, the food and other supplies.
“If we have a chance to take her out and socialize her in the community, take her to events, take her to the school, just to be a good Donut dog,” Hudson said.
Hudson said she and Gomez have talked about having a canine before and when this opportunity fell in their laps, Hudson suggested keeping Donut as a community relations dog.
“With Clarkston being the most diverse square mile in the United States, I don’t want a patrol dog or something I got to go worry that’s going to bite somebody,” Hudson said. “My big thing is all our officers are community relations officers. There’s not just one, we’re all community relations, community oriented.”
She added that the officers get out and talk to the community and residents. Donut got to meet new people at National Night Out at the beginning of the month and Hudson said everyone went crazy over her.
“It’s important that we break down those walls of the refugees feeling scared of us,” Hudson said. “So what better way to help break the ice than to have this fun, loving dog.”
Donut will go through obedience training in November. Hudson hopes that Donut will help foster more dialogue between officers and the community.
“Just a way to strike up conversation between the police and the community,” Hudson said. “We had coffee with a cop and took her up to Refuge Coffee. Everybody was, it’s all about Donut. People would come a lot of times that won’t necessarily come up and talk to you because their kinda scared or whatever. But you’ve got that dog.”
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