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Piper the police poodle, Milford’s newest paw patrol

Milford Police Sergeant Paul Pinto walks Piper around the room at Countryside. Courtesy photo

By Scott Calzolaio

It’s learned at a young age; when a service dog is at work, do not pet them. Unless, of course, they’re wearing a vest with big, capital letters that says, “PLEASE PET ME.” Milford Police’s new therapy dog, Piper, knows the invitation is irresistible, and sports that welcoming vest everywhere she goes.


As of December, Piper, a hypoallergenic standard poodle with a fluffy hairdo, officially became Milford Police’s first comfort animal. Her duty is less to protect and serve, but more to bring smiles, and of course give kisses. 

“The purpose of Piper is to kind of reset the mind a little bit in bad situations,“ said her handler, Sargent Paul Pinto, in an interview. “In addition to releasing those chemicals that animal lovers feel.”

When Pinto was a school resource officer (SRO) a few years ago, he came up with the idea for Milford after seeing other SROs with their therapy dogs.

“I thought it was a great thing to have in place as far as barriers between the police and children, and building trust,” he said. “So, I started doing some research.”

The purpose of having a pup like Piper on paw patrol, he said, is exactly that - to deescalate tense situations, provide emotional relief, and to do pawsitive communityoutreach.

The big fluffy head, lolling tongue, and constantly wagging tail are all part of the very serious work Piper is doing on a daily basis. Licking away tears or sitting still for a long hug have already been a few small, but infinitely impactful, ways Piper has aided Milford Police in tense situations.

So, with a goal in mind, Pinto reached out to his old friend, retired Milford Police K9 handler and owner of Alpha Dog K9 in Medway, Christina Taddei, for some advice on how to get started.

Taddei moved things along financially, by agreeing to donate a puppy, but only if she found the perfect fit for the job.

Then along came Piper.

“The mother of this litter is absolutely fearless,” Taddei said in an interview. “Piper was one of the most outgoing puppies in the litter. She was willing to try anything I put in front of her.”

When raising Piper and her littermates, Taddei would expose them to new textures, sounds, toys, and situations to gauge their reactions before deciding whether or not they might make a good fit.

“This whole litter was up for just about anything,” she said. “I had a lot of service dog candidates from that litter.”

Good genetics play a big part in finding a good service dog, but it’s also part luck, Taddei said.

“It’s pretty uncommon,” she said, when asked how often she sees a dog with Piper’s calm temperament and friendly disposition. “She is exactly what I was looking for when I started this breeding program for service dog candidates.”

Taddei sang Piper’s praises and gave Pinto a lot of credit for the expert training he’s done as well. 

“He’s done everything exactly the way it should have been done,” she said. “He treats her very well.”

Pinto received Piper when she was eight-weeks old and has been training and working with her since. 

“I dedicated a lot of my own personal time to training Piper,” he said. “She has a great disposition, very calm, and she has fantastic energy with the kids.”

He and Piper plan to be around town often at schools, events, and wherever needed, so be sure to give this very good girl a well-deserved scratch behind the ears, and thank her for her service to the Town of Milford.