News & Politics

The Capitol Police Now Has Its Own Emotional Support Dog

Lila, a black Lab, will start her tenure six months after the Capitol insurrection. She's the force's first emotional support animal.

Photograph from @CapitolPolice on Twitter.

US Capitol Police is welcoming a furry member to the force—not for bomb-sniffing, but for emotional support in a department traumatized by the events of January 6. The department tweeted this week that black Labrador Retriever Lila is joining the ranks as a full-time emotional support dog. The 2-year-old pooch will begin her tenure on July 5.

Lila’s arrival will come almost six months to the day after the Capitol insurrection. Concerns over lingering trauma have permeated the department, especially for those who dealt with rioters firsthand. Two police officers present during the attack, Howard Liebengold and Jeffrey Smith, died by suicide days after the insurrection. Many other officers have experienced ongoing struggles with their mental health.

In response, members of Congress like Virginia’s Jennifer Wexton have called for bolstering mental health resources for members of the Capitol Police force. Some initiatives have already launched: Ohio Congressman Tim Ryan is teaming up with Dr. Jim Gordon of DC’s Center for Mind-Body Medicine to provide officers with resources to aid the healing process. Lila’s promotion from playful pup to full-time support dog demonstrates another effort to bolster morale within the ranks.



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Daniella Byck
Assistant Editor

Daniella Byck joined Washingtonian in August 2018. She is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Madison where she studied journalism and digital culture.