Police K-9 team already makes memorable impact on local students

By: Kara Szymanski | Shelby-Utica News | Published June 29, 2022


SHELBY TOWNSHIP — Shelby Township’s new K-9 officer Stanley is already making an impact on the local community, and that was on display recently when he visited Peace Lutheran Church and School in Shelby Township.

Stanley, a 10-week-old cavalier King Charles spaniel, joined the Police Department as a comfort and therapy dog. Officer Carrie Bennett is Stanley’s handler, and she had been looking into a comfort and therapy dog for the department for months. Stanley was donated by a local family, Stanley and Lisa Babinski, who own Lisa’s All Breed Dog & Cat groomer on Van Dyke Avenue.

Officer Stanley officially got sworn-in June 13 as the Community Services Unit police dog.

Kelly Wilks, a teacher at Peace Lutheran, said the children had so much fun that they were asking for Stanley and Bennett to return.

“The children are even asking for her to come back to sign their yearbooks,” Wilks said.

“Officer Carrie and Officer Stanley are going to be an amazing duo,” Wilks added.

Wilks said her son also enjoyed the visit with the K-9 team.

“My son loved having Officer Carrie come into the school and the program she did with the students,” she said.

Bennett had been teaching the TEAM program, which stands for “teaching, educating and mentoring.” The Michigan State Police developed the program, which teaches about topics including alcohol and tobacco, vaping, stress, bullying and more.

Joshua Wilks said he learned a lot from Bennett.

“I thought Officer Carrie was very kind and made everything relate to our own lives. I learned a lot in the TEAM program and enjoyed having Officer Carrie in our class,” said Wilks.

Heather VanHouten, a sixth grade teacher at Peace Lutheran Church and School, said students learned a lot from the TEAM program, and meeting Officer Stanley was something she really enjoyed.

“It was great having Officer Carrie in our sixth grade classroom. The kids looked forward to their time with her each week, hearing real-life stories and learning about many of the challenges they may come face to face with as they grow into young adults. Some of the topics covered were peer pressure/bullying, internet safety, vaping, as well as alcohol/drug abuse. Office Carrie is a blessing to our students; she easily related to the students and created a safe environment where they each felt safe asking questions,” she said.

She said she isn’t sure who enjoyed visiting the school more, Bennett or Stanley.

“They are both adored by the students, and they can’t wait to see both out in the community, as well as at school next year. Officer Stanley will be a great addition to the Shelby Township police force, as he will be able to calm fears and anxieties in a way only a puppy can,” said VanHouten

Charlotte Hunsanger, a seventh grader, said she thinks Officer Stanley helps reduce stress and anxiety. 

“I know from experience that my classmates can be easily distracted by such cuteness, making it easier to open up and speak about different situations. I love both Officer Stanley and Officer Carrie,” said Hunsanger.

Paige Domerese, a second grader, said Officer Stanley is so cute.

Sommer VanHouten, a sixth grader, said she feels like Officer Stanley will help a lot.

“Officer Stanley will help a lot because there are many kids in the schools with anxiety or other things going on, and having Stanley in the school will help calm the students and give them a safe way to let it out,” said VanHouten.

Reeselyn Domerese, a sixth grader, said Stanley is going to be a brave puppy and comfort the children.

“I felt that the program was very intriguing and helpful for future purposes in learning about safety. It wasn’t just interesting — it was fun. Officer Carrie’s personality makes the program fun,” said Samantha Matalavy.