Public Safety Hosts Community Canine Swearing in Ceremony


Graydon Paul/ Villanovan Photography

Taffy, public safety’s new community canine, was sworn in at the ceremony last week.

Hannah Sweeney, Co-News Editor

This past week on campus, the Villanova student body welcomed the newest member of the Public Safety Department: a dog. Taffy, a Golden Retriever and Labrador mix, is a two-year old female who was brought to Villanova as the first-ever dog in the new Community Canine program. This program was established with the goal of providing students and staff with alternative forms of support on campus.

To find Taffy, the Villanova Public Safety Department researched and contacted several different organizations. With the help of Deputy Chief Police Debora Patch and Taffy’s current caretaker, Officer Amy Lenahan, Villanova decided on the organization “Paws with a Cause.” “Paws with a Cause” is centered in Michigan and works to custom train dogs to become assistant animals for people with varying disabilities. In addition to guide dogs and service dogs, they also train therapy dogs, such as Taffy.

“It’s funny, when Taffy was a puppy, she ate cement so they didn’t think she would make a good service dog,” Lenahan said. “But her love for people and temperament made her a great fit for a therapy dog.”

Because of this love for people, Taffy specializes in motivating, socializing and comforting individuals. In hopes to use her skills to provide students with a friendly face around campus, Villanova chose Taffy for the job.

In addition to Taffy’s year and a half working with “Paws with a Cause,” she has also been training with Villanova Officers for more than three weeks. 

“She has made a lot of progress and is a very quick learner,” Lenahan said. “She already knows seven commands and is trained not to bark.”

Each week, Taffy will be walking around campus and engaging with students as they walk to class and at various on-campus events. She will also be allowed inside buildings on campus and will be available throughout the week for any student or faculty member who needs something to brighten their day.

As Taffy was not trained to be a K-9 police dog, Lenahan explained that “[Taffy’s] main job is just to make people smile. She is here to provide comfort for staff and students, or anyone going through a difficult time.”

Last Wednesday, the University hosted a swearing-in ceremony to celebrate the new addition to the Public Safety team. Held at the Rowen Campus Green, the ceremony included short speeches from Rev. Peter M. Donohue, OSA, PhD. and Director of Public Safety and Chief of Police David Tedjeske. Additionally, III Magisterial District Judge, Honorable Leon Hunter, facilitated the official swearing in of Taffy with a short oath. Afterwards, members of the Public Safety Team as well as students and faculty, congregated outside for food, cupcakes and to meet Taffy.

Members of the community greeted Taffy with pets and smiles. Many even stopped to take pictures with her. 

Student Emma Conlin was one of many able to meet her after the ceremony. 

“Taffy is beyond sweet, and I am so excited for her to make a positive impact on other Villanova students,” Conlin shared.

Student Emily Schoonover also expressed her excitement. 

“I think the Community Canine program is a really good idea,” Schoonover said. “My freshman year I went to a lot of the weekly pet therapy sessions the school would host and it was always such a fun way to relieve all the stress from work. Having a dog like Taffy around always cheers people up.”

In addition to the excitement from students, Villanova faculty members and members of the Public Safety Department look forward to having a new member of the community. 

“We are so glad she found her forever home here at Villanova,” Tedjeske said.