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.
We are thrilled to welcome the newest member of our Department!
2-year-old Lila is our first full-time emotional support black lab. Lila's first day is on July 5. pic.twitter.com/e6eX6gH77u
— U.S. Capitol Police (@CapitolPolice) June 9, 2021
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.