The agency’s new therapy dog, a nine-month-old French Bulldog named Luna, is partnered with Bianca Becker ’17, a police detective and UCF alumna.
“No one is going to confuse her for a working K-9,” Becker says. “That just makes her more approachable and easier to love — exactly what you want in a therapy dog.”
Becker, who has been with the department since 2017, specializes in sex crimes investigations at UCF. The duo will now also respond to any case involving Central Florida’s Sexual Assault Response Team (SART). This team includes detectives, advocates, nurses, Child Protective Services and any other entity that responds to sexual assaults in the Central Florida area.
While other law enforcement agencies may utilize therapy dogs for cases they investigate, SART didn’t have their own designated dog they could call in — until Luna.
“The idea is that Luna and I will be used by other agencies if they have a sex crimes case where a dog may be needed but not accessible,” Becker says. “In the past, it was difficult finding a therapy dog that could come in at a moment’s notice, but now we’ll be readily available for those calls.”
Becker also noted that some therapy dog handlers may not be trained to work with sexual assault survivors — something Becker has been doing since she joined UCFPD’s Criminal Investigations Division in August 2020.
“These dogs are great. They’re cute, they’re cuddly, and they give victims a lot of comfort,” Becker says. “But they’re also tools detectives can use to help build and solve cases.”
French Bulldogs are also the new top dogs, according to the American Kennel Club. They were recently named the most popular breed in the United States, ending the Labrador Retriever’s 31-year reign. This doesn’t come as a surprise to Becker, who has three other Frenchies at home.
“Frenchies were literally bred to sit on your lap and sleep,” Becker says. “Temperament-wise, they’re the perfect therapy dog and they’re just so cute!”
Luna will join fellow UCFPD therapy dog Chipper, a four-year-old yellow Labrador Retriever. But don’t worry — Becker says there’s no bad blood between the two competing breeds, who were both recently sworn in together in an informal ceremony.
Although she’s still in training, Luna is expected to complete her certification at the beginning of 2024. In the meantime, she’ll continue to participate in training classes and get “paws-on” experience at community events at UCF.