Pittsburgh police’s comfort dog is a ‘gift’ out of tragedy | TribLIVE.com

Pittsburgh police’s comfort dog is a ‘gift’ out of tragedy

Megan Guza
Megan Guza | Tribune-Review
Pittsburgh Bureau of Police’s first comfort dog, Zane, sits on the lap of Officer Victoria Butch outside the Zone 4 police station in Squirrel Hill on Monday, May 06, 2019.
Megan Guza | Tribune-Review
Zane, the new comfort dog for the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police, sits outside the Zone 4 station in Squirrel Hill on Monday, May 06, 2019. “Zane” is Hebrew for “gift or prayed for.”
Megan Guza | Tribune-Review
Pittsburgh Bureau of Police Officer Victoria Butch, at left, and Sgt. Carla Kearns sit with the bureau’s first comfort dog, a 10-week-old golden retriever puppy named Zane, on Monday, May 6, 2019. Zane will join the bureau’s peer support team and respond to critical incidents, as well as work with Butch in community outreach.
Megan Guza | Tribune-Review
Zane, the new comfort dog for the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police, sits outside the Zone 4 station in Squirrel Hill on Monday, May 06, 2019. “Zane” is Hebrew for “gift or prayed for.”

The journey of a 10-week-old golden retriever puppy to the Pittsburgh police began in the aftermath of the massacre at the Tree of Life synagogue, and so his name, Zane, is only fitting.

“Zane” is Hebrew for “gift” and “prayed for.”

“After the events of Tree of Life, we brought in canine first responders for our debriefings,” said Zone 4 Sgt. Carla Kearns. “You saw the warmth and the growth of our officers in opening up, accepting the debriefing and accepting support from our peer support team, where sometimes officers tend to shut that out a little bit.”

Kearns and Zone 4 Community Outreach Officer Victoria Butch — Zane’s handler — are members of the bureau’s peer support team, the Pittsburgh Member Assistance Program. Members of the support team are trained in crisis intervention, and offer fellow officers a confidential place to talk about trauma and other professional and personal problems and concerns.

“We said why not have our own canine here,” Kearns said. “(It’s) not only to help our officers through a critical incident and through a traumatic event, but also for the community — for the community to come together with us and share in our joy with the dog.”

Zane’s name came after extensive research by Butch.

“We did a lot of soul-searching as to how to name the puppy,” Kearns said. “‘Zane’ is Hebrew for ‘gift and prayed for,’ and we talked about it and we thought that that was very fitting after the events of Tree of Life.”

Because Butch is trained in crisis intervention, she also can work with victims of violent crime during interviews as well. The comfort dog can help victims through an experience, which helps both the victim as well as detectives, who rely on details to further investigations.

For now, the pup is still in training. He gets his final set of shots later this month, and then he’ll begin obedience training. At around 6 months old, he’ll start his therapy dog training. Butch said they won’t be attending any community events until Zane has some training under his belt.

Butch said officer reaction to Zane has been positive – mostly.

“Even if maybe they grumble behind doors that they don’t like it when Zane’s there, how can you not want to pet this dog and feel a little better between calls?” she said.

Megan Guza is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Megan at 412-380-8519, [email protected] or via Twitter .

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.