While some say school safety hinges on guns, cameras or alarms in classrooms, Mark Gomer and Kristi Schiller think specially trained dogs should take point in preventing violence in schools.
Gomer’s for-profit company has sent a gun- and drug-detecting dog to patrol the halls of an Ohio high school, while Schiller is launching a nonprofit in Houston to give schools the trained canines for free. Their programs are still in their infancy, so questions remain about dogs that can distract, scare or send kids into sneezing fits. But they think they can cultivate their ideas to help schools across the country stay safe.
Gomer’s first full-time safety dog is a year-old Dutch shepherd named Atticus, who reported to duty this school year at Oak Hills High School in Green Township in southwest Ohio.
The dog trained at the school before the summer break, said Gomer, co-owner of American Success Dog Training in Bridgetown, Ohio. As part of the company’s School Protection Dog program, Atticus learned on the job about marching bands and school bells and the thunk of books hitting a locker.