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WestCare Texas Sponsors TheraPups Emma & Blue Shine Bright

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By Jessica Cerda, Communications Specialist

Photo Caption: The San Antonio Independent School District’s (SAISD) Police Department CARE Team

Emma and Blue are the newest therapists at San Antonio Independent School District’s inner-city campuses.  Not your typical mental health professionals, they walk on four legs, require pets on demand, and their partners (handlers) are school police officers.  

Emma is a Golden Retriever and Blue is a Labrador Retriever. They are both part of TheraPups, a program proudly sponsored by the WestCare Texas Crime Prevention and Reduction program that assisted the SAISD Police Department Mental Health Unit CARE (Child Assistance, Remediation, and Evaluation) Team with purchasing the trained therapy dogs.  While these “TheraPups” have mastered their objectives to help youth through stressful situations and de-escalation, they are doing much more.  


“The kids react well to Emma, while there are some (students) who don’t react well to officers. She’s a conversation starter,” explains Emma’s handler SAISD K-9 Police Officer Monica Carreon. She details how gleeful she feels when Emma approaches students prompting them to ask questions in turn opening themselves up, paving pathways for involvement and assistance where needed.  

Emma keeps a busy schedule with Officer Carreon making the rounds at Whittier Middle School, their homebase, as well as other campuses for presentations on mental health and mental health support, Drug-Free Zones, and the District’s P3 Campus which is a website/app that uses an anonymous, monetary reward-based reporting system to help keep campuses safe by collecting information on drugs, incidents, and weapons.   

Additionally, Emma has her own special event “Reading with Emma”. Her special power to command a room filled with young children makes Officer Carreon’s job easy when it comes to connecting and talking with students.  “We’ll talk and read books, we talk about everything and anything and I try to educate them as much as possible using Emma because she is a show stopper! She helps calm the kids and they love her. They sit down ready to listen and she is the best partner I could have,” said Officer Carreon.   

Both Emma and Blue are trained to handle “crisis calls” providing comfort to students, teachers, staff and parents in the event of traumatic events that may occur on campus. Emma is assigned to Pre-K through 5th grade campuses, and Blue, who is larger in size, is suitably matched with the older students from 6th to 12th grade campuses.  His partner/handler is SAISD K-9 Police Officer Martin Rosa who is equally as proud of Blue. “Blue is especially good with kids, particularly when they need comfort or feel stressed…He’s calm. He’s loving, and He’s perfect.” 

Blue is an acronym for Bonding, Listening, Understanding, Everyone and Emma is an acronym for Emotional Motivational Mental (Health Support) Animal.  Both were trained at Einstein K9 LLC and are certified in national standards for therapeutic care.