Lila the Labrador is leading the way for therapy dogs as emotional support systems for officers in need.

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U.S. Captiol new therapy dog, a black lab, sitting in grass
Credit: Courtesy of U.S. Capitol Police

Our nation's heroes who protect and serve need all the support they can get. Fortunately, members of the United States Capitol Police (USCP) will soon enjoy extra belly rubs, face licks, and ear scritches...compliments of Lila, a 2-year-old black Labrador retriever!  

The USCP was established in 1828 "to protect and secure Congress so it can fulfill its constitutional and legislative responsibilities in a safe, secure and open environment," according to its website. The force posted to Twitter last week to share its excitement about this new full-time addition to the department. While other K-9 officers over the years have assisted the force in bomb detection and patrol, Lila's position as a therapy dog is a first. Starting on July 5, the pup will offer support to USCP officers as they work through anxiety, stress, and other emotional issues.

You might remember extra-cuddly Clarence, a Saint Bernard therapy dog who provided tremendous comfort to mourners during the April 2021 funeral services of USCP Officer William "Billy" Evans as his body laid in honor in the U.S. Capitol rotunda. So Lila's four-pawed pitter-patter every day will be most welcomed. 

NBC Palm Springs reported that Luis A. Bolaños, a retired law enforcement officer and private investigator, was instrumental in raising funds for Lila's training and placement. Her trainer is Coby Webb, a retired Riverside County (California) sheriff's captain and K-9 trainer. Lila started a therapy dog program specifically for first responders so they can have the non-judgemental support and love that can only come from an empathetic pooch. 

"She's [Lila] going to be part of the team, she's going to be there on the good days and the hard days," Webb told NBC Palm Springs.