Sioux Falls Police announce newest recruit: Leo the therapy dog

Leo, the acronym for law enforcement officer, is a 14-week-old golden retriever, and will help officers and victims in stressful situations.

Sioux Falls Police Chief Jon Thum holds the department's latest recruit, Leo the therapy dog, at a briefing on Thursday, April 27, 2023.
Contributed / Sioux Falls Police Department

SIOUX FALLS — The Sioux Falls Police Department has made arguably their cutest hire of the year.

Police Chief Jon Thum announced on Thursday, April 27, the addition of a therapy dog, Leo, to the force. The 14-week-old golden retriever is currently undergoing several months of training to become a certified therapy dog.

Leo, the acronym for law enforcement officer, will serve a variety of purposes, not only helping officers and victims through stressful situations, but also as an outreach connection to help the department connect with the public.

“If you see us out in public, our K9s are some of our most popular attractions, but our K-9 working dogs are not always the best fit for being pet, because they have a different job,” Thum said. “Leo, a golden retriever, will be trained and certified as a therapy dog to do some outreach component, too. You may see him out at block parties, events and different things as we work to interact with the public.”

Thum explained that having a therapy dog on the force gives the department a new tool to provide support to its officers and the public.


“Law enforcement is a demanding profession, and we’re always looking for new ways to provide support to our officers and the people and the victims we work with,” he said. “We know that sometimes animals can break down barriers and really build relationships with the community, and we’re excited for that.”

Leo was acquired from Archwind Retrievers in Belle Plaine, Minnesota, for $1. He’s currently being trained for his therapy dog certification by Maggie Pearson of Tenacious Dog Training in Sioux Falls.

On April 30, Leo will head to Severance Brewing Co. on Phillips Avenue to pick out ingredients for a new dog brew. All proceeds from Leo’s batch will go toward any vet expenses that Leo may incur over the course of his life.

“You should expect to see a lot of him in the future,” Thum said.

A South Dakota native, Hunter joined Forum Communications Company as a reporter for the Mitchell (S.D.) Republic in June 2021 and now works as a digital reporter for Forum News Service, focusing on local news in Sioux Falls. He also writes regional news spanning across the Dakotas, Minnesota and Wisconsin.
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