Staff Sgt. Jeff McArthur with Lester, the Sooke RCMP’s informal comfort dog. Lester provides emotional support to the victims of crime. (Tim Collins/Sooke News Mirror)

Sooke RCMP dog offers comfort to crime victims

Hugs and licks are stock in trade for Lester, the youngest helper at the detachment

Sooke RCMP Staff Sgt. Jeff McArthur readily admits that his buddy Lester isn’t about to save Timmy when he falls in the well. (Those of you who are too young to understand the Lassie reference, try Google).

But the Wheaton terrier is still considered a valuable addition to the Sooke RCMP detachment.

Lester is McArthur’s pet dog and has been since he joined the McArthur household as a puppy five years ago.

The pup moved to Sooke when McArthur took over as detachment commander in 2014, and he was only a year old when he first showed his potential as a helpful addition to the RCMP.

“I’d brought Lester to work with me and when I left that night we discovered a woman sitting on the stairs at the employee entrance. It was after hours and she’d been waiting there for someone to come out,” McArthur said.

“It turned out that she had been the victim of domestic assault and was very upset and didn’t know where else to go or what to do.”

McArthur described how Lester seemed to instinctively sense that the woman was upset and immediately went to her, licking her face and cuddling up so she could stroke him as she spoke to officers.

“Later on she told investigators that Lester made a big difference for her that night,” McArthur said.

Since that time, Lester has played a role in comforting other victims of crime and will, at times, accompany officers to presentations at schools.

“We can go to a school and you find that sometimes no one wants to come to speak with us, but if you bring Lester, you go from no kids wanting to talk to you to a lot of them coming over,” McArthur said.

While not a formally trained comfort dog, Lester has been filling the role; so much so that McArthur said that the detachment is exploring the idea of obtaining a PADS dog to help Lester in his duties.

Pacific Assistance Dogs Society train and supply assistance dogs who can provide the sorts of emotional supports that Lester seems to offer with an innate sense of love and caring.

There are no worries, though, that Lester will be replaced.

“We dressed him up and he played the role of Grinch’s dog on our parade float last year. No one is going to challenge him for that role,” said McArthur with a smile.

Lester declined to comment, preferring to stay out of the limelight and just do his job.



editor@sookenewsmirror.com

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