SAN MARCOS, Texas (KXAN) — At the request of local officials in Hawaii, the Texas State University Police Department’s mental health officer and Brady, the university’s therapy dog, went on a two-week trip to Maui to help victims and first responders there.
Officer Kendra Marsteller and Pawfficer Brady are a certified therapy team that helps individuals in crisis and victims of crime.
“Residents, volunteers, responders, Mayor’s office, prosecutor’s office. We were all over the place,” Marsteller said.
Marsteller said they were there to help people work through their emotions and bring some joy.
“Literally everybody that saw him just lit up,” she said. “We’ve had officers just lay and put their leg on him and lie next to him.”
As an emotional support dog, Brady was trained to do this.
“They smell the chemical imbalances,” Marsteller said. “So I see him go up to people who you would never know was going through something.”
Partnership with Maui law enforcement
The idea came because of a partnership between the university’s police department and Maui law enforcement.
“We actually co-host a conference, a national conference that focuses on serving victims of mass violence,” said TXST UPD Chief Matthew Carmichael. “We knew immediately we had to do something to help.”
Carmichael said bringing a dog to Hawaii was not simple.
“It normally requires a multitude of tests and long-term quarantine upon arrival. Kendra was able to work with our veterinarian to get the specialized tests needed to enter Hawaii, and I believe we are the first out-of-state therapy dog team to enter Hawaii without having to quarantine,” he said.
The team provided victim services at several locations on the island. TXST said they supported the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) disaster recovery centers.
Marsteller said there’s still a lot of rebuilding, but she left encouraged.
“There’s still hope in the community,” she said.
As they recover from the jet lag and process their experience, Marsteller said there’s no doubt they’d do it all over again.
“The smiles on people’s faces,” she said. “They needed all the help they could get all the comfort all the support.”
The chief said it is the first time the duo left the state. However, since they’re here to help anyone hit by tragedy, this likely won’t be the last time they do.