One cuddly companion is leaving UKPD, but another may soon join

Oliver, UK police department’s first therapy K-9, was used by UKPD to help develop relationships with UK’s community by easing tension and relieving stress. Photo by Arden Barnes | Staff

Rick Childress

The UK Police Department announced last week that the department’s first-ever therapy dog would be leaving the force. But department officials also said that they’d work to get a new dog. 

Oliver, a cantankerous poodle with curly salt and pepper fur, and his handler, Officer Amy Boatman, will both be leaving the department, Chief Joe Monroe told the Kernel. Boatman is leaving for other employment.

But Monroe said the police are looking for a new dog and handler to “continue with the program.” It’s unclear when the department will get the new dog. 

Boatman, a community affairs officer, kickstarted the therapy dog program last year. The program is designed to better police-community relations and calm people in stressing situations. 

Over the past year, Oliver and Boatman could often be seen roaming campus, with the poodle collecting all the love that usually comes with being a dog on a college campus. 

After an unsubstantiated bomb threat left the White Hall classroom building nearly devoid of students in the fall 2018 semester, Oliver and Boatman sauntered through the hallways and classrooms to calm the students who decided to brave the threats and come to class. 

At the time, Boatman told the Kernel that the police had brought both of their bomb canine units along with Oliver, who was brought in because “there’s been a lot of stress.”

Boatman catalyzed the UK’s therapy dog program after she wrote a 50-page master’s thesis on the use of therapy animals in university police departments. Her research became reality when Oliver joined the force.