Therapy Dogs

The Highlands County Sheriff's Office has had a traditional K-9 team for many years. In 2018, we added another kind of K-9 unit -- therapy dogs. 

Therapy dogs are used to provide comfort and joy to people who are in the middle of bad situations. While almost any dog can do that, our therapy dogs have gone to specialized training to learn how to best assist victims and witnesses. 

Both of our therapy dogs have proven to be great at their jobs and are ambassadors in the community, frequently visiting schools and the courthouse. They even have their own trading cards.

They also served important roles in helping  many individuals during certain tragedies the community experienced in 2018 and 2019.


Therapy dog Stella trading cardStella, a Weimaraner mix who was born in 2017, was our first therapy dog. She came to us from Brevard County, where she was a rescue dog who went through the Brevard County Sheriff's Office "Paws & Stripes College" for obedience training. She then came to Highlands County and joined Victim Advocate Liz Fischer in September of 2018. 

Together, Stella and Liz help children (and sometimes adults) who are victims or witnesses get through their interviews, which can be a scary time. They also accompany victims not only to the hospital but also to the courtroom when needed.  

K-9 Stella loves meeting kids and helps encourage them to tell an adult if something bad has happened to them. She also lets them know that if something is hard to talk about, she is there to help.

Therapy dog Trey trading cardOur second therapy dog, Trey, belongs to Chaplain Allen Altvater. A Pembroke Welsh Corgi, his duties as a therapy dog began after the line of duty death of Deputy William Gentry in May of 2018. Chaplain Altvater began brining Trey to the HCSO offices to help bring a smile to the employees. .  Trey continues spreading joy and can often be found walking the halls of the Sheriff’s Office during his weekly visits.

The pair then went through the training to become a certified therapy dog team, completing the certification in January of 2019. 

Trey loves meeting people of all ages and bring smiles to everyone he meets. 


Both K9 Stella and Trey, along with their handlers, are certified therapy dog teams. For more information on Stella, email efischer@highlandssheriff.org. For more about Trey, email aaltvater@highlandssheriff.org.