GGUSD Announces New Program with Garden Grove Police to Bring Support Dogs to Schools
- Tuesday, May 17, 2022
Yesterday Garden Grove Unified School District (GGUSD) and the Garden Grove Police Department (GGPD) announced a new program that is bringing trained police support dogs to schools across GGUSD to provide an extra layer of social-emotional support for students. The program was announced to fourth through sixth graders at Mitchell Elementary School during a Mental Health assembly.
GGUSD Superintendent Dr. Gabriela Mafi credits Garden Grove Police Chief Tom DaRé, Sergeant Jon Wainwright and School Resource Officers Patrick Julienne and Derek Link for having the vision to make the program a reality.
Julienne adopted Canine Misha and Link adopted Canine Nellie, both who have gone through specialized training to be able to provide social-emotional support for students dealing with anxiety, de-escalation support for students experiencing heighted emotions or behavior, and other instances of trauma or tragedy when students need additional social-emotional support.
“Our district has been consistently expanding mental health services for students and now thanks to the wonderful partnership with the Garden Grove Police Department and the dedication of our School Resource Officers, we have trained police support dogs who can provide comfort and care to students in need,” said Board of Education Trustee Walter Muneton.
The assembly was attended by GGUSD Board of Education Vice President Lan Nguyen, Trustee Teri Rocco, Trustee Walter Muneton, district leaders, city officials from Garden Grove and Santa Ana, along with Garden Grove Police officers.
Already, SRO Julienne and Canine Misha and SRO Link and Canine Nellie have provided tremendous support to GGUSD students, including to students and staff at Mitchell Elementary School following the tragic death of fifth grade student Vyncent Trinh whose twin brother Ace attends the school and has received support from the dogs.
To launch the GGPD Canine Support Program, the GGPD implemented the John Reynolds Youth Support Canine Foundation which honors the legacy of Garden Grove Police Lieutenant John Reynolds who passed away last year and helps fund the program.
Nellie was initially training at Guide Dogs of the Desert to be a guide dog but due to her loving temperament, she was selected for the profession of support dog. Misha was donated by an Orange County resident. Both dogs obtained their Canine Good Citizen certification and went through an additional 30 hours of training with nationally certified K9 instructor Coby Jennings of Webb’s K9 Training. An additional American Kennel Cub trainer evaluated the dogs and presented them with their Canine Good Citizen certificates.
The dogs have received training in obedience in a chaotic environment, providing support amidst stressful distractions, remaining calm and supportive for strangers and refraining relaxed and free from barking or aggression in a variety of environments. Nellie flew to Kansas City to receive Critical Incident Response Team training and performed well in a variety of high-stress environments.
“COVID-19 introduced children to new emotional challenges and stressors and bringing in support dogs is one more tool in our toolbox to help students maintain positive mental health,” said Chief DaRé.
Following the assembly which taught students about the importance of self-care, Officers Link and Julienne provided students with Misha and Nellie baseball cards and coloring pages for students in primary grades. The coloring pages of Misha and Nellie were hand-drawn by Bolsa Grande High School student Rose Tran.