ALTAMONTE SPRINGS, Fla. – When Cooper the Comfort K-9 heads to work at Altamonte Elementary School, he knows he has an important job to do.
"He wears a little vest, and when I bring that vest out in the morning, he knows he's coming to work and gets very excited," Deputy Susan McCormack of the Seminole County Sheriff's Office said.
McCormack began bringing the 4-year-old corgi to work with her last school year.
"Kids can come up and read to him. They can take a break with him, just to make them feel comfortable here at school," she said.
McCormack said children are dealing with a lot, and sometimes Cooper can reach students in ways adults cannot. She recalled the time a student was upset and refused to come out from under a desk.
"Eventually, the child started petting Cooper and he was able to start talking to us and telling us what had upset him, and he was able to come out from under the table. We took a walk around campus with Cooper and he was able to go back to class and have a successful rest of the day," McCormack said.
McCormack said students can earn "Cooper Coupons," allowing them to take a break with Cooper. She also said he provides a way to build relationships with the students.
"Some kids aren't super comfortable with law enforcement, but they see him and they want to talk to me and want to talk to him. Then I get to establish the relationship and they feel like they can come to me for anything. So it enriches their day, it enriches me and I get to build better relationships."
The Seminole County Sheriff's Office has comfort K-9s in four Seminole County schools. The K-9s work in partnership with Brevard County's Paws and Stripes organization.