ONLY ON 5: Central Point P.D. reunites working dog with previous paralympic handler

CENTRAL POINT, Or.- NBC5 News was there when Central Point Police Department gave a Paralympian a special birthday present, and a working dog a new purpose.

“He loves to work, he loves to be with people and serve he wants to have a purpose and I couldn’t be happier,” said Paralympian Jen Armbruster

Jen is blind and when her previous guide dog Simon started to struggle with his training, she reached out to Working Dogs of Oregon to find him a new purpose.

“She reached out to me to see if I could take him, which I really wanted to. But we knew Simon had a lot more left in him to be able to serve people,” said Working Dogs of Oregon Executive Director Darin Campbell. He says he knew exactly where to send Simon.

“He came down here, we worked with him, with his handler now. We’ve taken him to the courthouse, we trained him to go the witness stands, and go to the courtrooms,” Campbell said.

Simon is the newest member of the Central Point Police Department.  He’ll help to bring comfort to victims of sexual and domestic violence, from the first call on scene all the way to the court process.

“You take a dog like Simon and he brings comfort and strength to someone who needs it in the worst moments of their lives,” Campbell explained. Simon will now go home with Central Point Police Chief Kristine Allison, but a special occasion reunited him with his old handler.

For Armbruster’s birthday, she traveled down to central point from Portland to meet Simon once again after a year apart.

“Its a rare opportunity but it has been impactful to all of us,” Chief Allison said.

It took a moment, but once Simon smelled her he was just as excited, barking and howling for joy. Everyone is thankful Simon can continue to help people.

“Couldn’t have worked out better. Sad that he couldn’t continue his work as a guide but he is touching so many people’s lives around here,” Armbruster said.

“Amazing transition to see a dog that’s retired that has serves someone else now serve a community,” Chief Allison said of the opportunity to work with Simon and see him reunite with Armbruster. The Central Point Police Department seems to agree that Simon is settling in perfectly.

“He owns the central point police department,” Campbell commented.

The department says its excited to finally introduce Simon to the public and premiere a one-of-its-kind program providing victim support therapy dogs.

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Grace Smith
Grace Smith is co-anchor for NBC5 News at 6. The Chicago native is a recent graduate of University of Miami with a Communication Honors degree specializing in Broadcast Journalism. She minored in Creative Writing and focused her senior thesis on social media usage and engagement. During her time at the University of Miami, she anchored multiple award-winning student television programs, covering everything from music festivals to the Super Bowl. Though she loved Miami's beaches, she's thrilled to be in the Pacific Northwest where she can experience all four seasons and have a real Christmas tree! When she’s not at work, you can find Grace glued to any television showing live sports (especially if it's the Chicago Bears) or attempting a new recipe as she learns to cook.
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