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K-9 Comfort dog joins West Fargo Police Department

K-9 Bella
West Fargo Police Department
K-9 Bella

K-9 Bella will serve as a comfort dog in the West Fargo Public School system.

The West Fargo Police Department is launching a School Resource Officer and comfort dog team – the first of its kind in North Dakota.

This is Chief Denis Otterness. He says K-9 Bella is a 14 month-old Labrador mix.

"I met her this morning for the first time, and she's just an absolute lover. She loves attention and affection. And I think she's going to serve the public and the students in our school district really well."

Bella will accompany SRO Todd Pearson, a School Resource Officer with West Fargo Elementary Schools. Otterness says Bella will serve the entire West Fargo Public School system.

"It really is a way to help some of our struggling students with anxiety, depression, we absolutely think it's going to have an impact on student morale. And overall, just really as a tool to increase some of those positive interactions out in our community during different community events."

Otterness says Bella will also assist in the police department’s internal wellness programs.

"We've got an officer wellness program and peer support team for when our staff and officers and support staff experience traumatic events, either out in the community or internally, such as the unfortunate passing of Lieutenant Gustafson last year, and the heart attack that Officer Tim Brown had several months following that."

Otterness says Bella will get to work once they’ve established a relationship with West Fargo Public School families, to identify which students may benefit from Bella’s work.