Independence business holding fundraiser for police department’s new therapy dog

INDEPENDENCE, Mo. -- Long before Russ Lawrence was a master gardener, he was a foster child who was often comforted by the company of therapy dogs.

That's why he's giving back to a therapy dog in need.

On Saturday at A Secret Garden, the botanical garden and wedding chapel he operates in Independence, he's hosting a benefit for Josie. She's the 2-year old therapy dog that was acquired by the Independence Police Department about a month ago.

A Secret Garden has been home to hundreds of weddings over the past seven years. But this Saturday at noon, the Independence business owner intends to help local police raise some cash for the canine.

Police said Josie can't go on every call they work. That's why police need a special alarm system that will notify them when its too hot for her in the car.

"The Independence Police Department has always been there when we've needed help. They're there for people in all kinds of need. They don't ask questions. They help," Lawrence said.

And Josie, who helps sooth the anxieties of the police department's employees, is a big extension of that.

"Sometimes you can see the smiles go over people's faces," Sgt. Matt Shull said.

Shull and Josie ride together every day. He said police therapy dogs are a new trend in police work, and he believes IPD is the first metro agency to own one.

"The outpouring from the community has been great. This is another example of it so we can get Josie everything she needs," Shull said.

Josie also makes appearances at local schools and civic functions. Shull said providing her with necessary items helps the police department continue to connect with the public.

There's no admission to attend Saturday's benefit at A Secret Garden, which sits in the Englewood Arts District in Independence. Event organizers said they'll "pass the hat" and ask for cash donations to help raise money for Josie's new gear.

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