Pawfficer Donut meows into her role as first feline officer

By: Terry Oparka | Troy Times | Published May 15, 2018

 Pawfficer Donut appears in uniform to be sworn in to serve and purr-tect in the new Troy Police Feline Unit at the Troy Police Department May 11.

Pawfficer Donut appears in uniform to be sworn in to serve and purr-tect in the new Troy Police Feline Unit at the Troy Police Department May 11.

Photo by Patricia O'blends

 Pawfficer Donut purr-fects her networking skills with 52-4 District Court Judge Kirsten Nielsen Hartig.

Pawfficer Donut purr-fects her networking skills with 52-4 District Court Judge Kirsten Nielsen Hartig.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes

TROY — A different cat than expected swore to purr-tect and serve the Troy Police Department May 11. 

Judges Kirsten Nielsen Hartig and Maureen McGinnis, of the 52-4 District Court, stepped away from their courtrooms that afternoon to swear in Pawfficer Donut at the Troy Police Department. 

Troy police selected a new police cat from kittens the Michigan Humane Society brought to police headquarters the morning of May 11. Their first pick, Pawfficer Badges, was later diagnosed with feline leukemia. 

Matt Pepper, president and CEO of the Michigan Humane Society, said the Humane Society has a long history of working alongside law enforcement on cruelty and neglect cases and the training of K-9 units. 

“This is a fantastic event,” Pepper said, adding that he hopes it will inspire others to think about the role animals could play in their organization. “It’s a celebration of how important animals are to us. We’re honored to take part.” 

Pawfficer Donut is a 10-week-old, 2-pound domestic female from an unwanted litter. 

Hartig asked Pawfficer Donut to raise her right paw and swear to serve as “an ambassador to the community and to bridge the gap between the police and the people they serve.” 

“You are the first Troy police cat,” McGinnis said. “You are a trailblazer.” 

“It’s not the end of the story (for Pawfficer Badges),” Pepper said. “It’s a complicated disease, highly contagious (to other cats).” 

Pepper said the cat will be placed with a foster family for her care. 

Dr. Robert Fisher, a veterinarian for the Michigan Humane Society and a Troy resident, said they will manage the care of Pawfficer Badges, who is currently asymptomatic for feline leukemia, which is ultimately fatal. They are treating the cat with drops for an eye infection.

“We will observe her closely and manage her secondary symptoms,” he said. 

He said the disease may cause suppression of the immune system, chronic inflammation, tumors and secondary infections. 

The Troy Police Department is active on Facebook and Twitter. Last month, police said they would add the Feline Unit if 10,000 people followed them on Twitter  — and they hit that number. 

Sgt. Meghan Lehman explained that police approached Morse Elementary School and got suggestions for names for the new pawfficer from every class, and they also took suggestions from residents. 

Troy police polled the community on social media to name the cat. Lehman said “Badges” and “Donut” were fairly close in the vote tally. A total of 2,256 votes were cast on Twitter.

Troy Police Chief Gary Mayer said that “although it was not something I thought I would ever do when I went through the police academy,” establishing the new Feline Unit allowed Troy police “to engage with the public we serve and show that we are human too.” 

The Feline Unit will be brought in for special duties as needed and will not be on duty all the time. When not on the job, the Troy police cat will live with a dispatch staff member, who has two other cats in her home. 

Follow Troy police on social media at @TroyMI_Police and facebook.com/TroyMiPolice.

For information on animals available for adoption, visit michiganhumane.org.