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The University Star

The Student News Site of Texas State University

The University Star

The Student News Site of Texas State University

The University Star

Meet Pawfficer Brady: Texas State’s first therapy K9


Pawfficer Brady lays out on the steps outside Old Main, Friday, June 24, 2022, at Texas State.

From getting used to a new environment away from home, taking exams or tackling difficult courses, college life can be difficult. To ease stress, the Texas State University Police Department (UPD) has welcomed Pawfficer Brady, Texas State’s first therapy K9, to be a furry companion for students.
The plan to start a therapy K9 program was led by Matthew Carmichael, the director and chief of police at UPDPrior to joining Texas State UPD, Carmichael served on city and university levels in the roles of a police sergeant, lieutenant and chief of police.
Through all of his experience, Carmichael never had any experience with a canine therapy program, but he was ready to tackle it head-on as he knew Texas State students could use a resource like Brady. Since his arrival on campus in June, Brady and his handler, Kendra Marsteller, have already made an impact.
“Brady has changed us as an organization, as corny as it sounds,” Carmichael said. “It’s hard to have a bad day with Brady. I think a lot of the work that Kendra does, too, is just phenomenal, because she’s working with members on campus whether it’s students, faculty or staff who have been in crisis that are now being taken care of.”
After he was surrendered when he was a couple of months old in Brevard County, Florida, Brady was enrolled in the Paws & Stripes College at the Brevard County Sheriff’s Office to learn obedience training by selected and trained jail inmates.
After completing training, Brady was selected to participate in the advanced eight-week training course to serve as a Law Enforcement and Multidiscipline Crimes Against Persons Therapy Dog. UPD filled out an application for a therapy K9 and the Paws and Stripes College matched them with Brady.
Marsteller, UPD’s mental health officer and Brady’s handler, traveled to Florida to bring Brady to Texas. While in Florida, she caught a glimpse of his capabilities in a shopping mall.
“I saw in Florida, he walked up to two girls at the mall we were visiting,” Marsteller said. “I had no inclination that they were having a bad day until I started talking to them, but he already knew and went straight to them.”
So far, Brady has interacted with over 500 people within the Texas State community including faculty, staff and students with Marsteller’s help.
As a first-generation college graduate and Texas State alumna, Marsteller obtained her master’s degree in criminal justice at the University of Cincinnati in 2015. Marsteller encountered the stressful role of being the first person to assist someone in potential danger as a 911 dispatch supervisor for the Comal County Sherriff’s Office in New Braunfels until 2018.
After her role as a 911 dispatch supervisor became too overwhelming, Marsteller returned to Texas State to serve students and start her journey to become a victim services advocate and later, a mental health officer.
As a victim services advocate, Marsteller felt that she was on the tail end of cases. She believed becoming a mental health officer would allow her to understand cases from the beginning and to follow through with each victim. After training to become a mental health officer, Marsteller knew she made the right choice.
“Being someone who has not had the greatest experience of law enforcement, my whole passion was to change that,” Marsteller said. “Being a dispatcher is very stressful because you are the first person to answer the phone in someone’s crisis, but with victim services, you’re there on the scene of maybe a death and you’re having to consult the family. That’s what led me to mental health and eventually Brady because I wanted to better what’s best for our community.”
So far, Marsteller and Brady have partaken in about 97 visits to classrooms, dorms and Texas State eventsThey have made appearances at events such as the LBJ Picnic, Freshman Takeover and New Student Orientation to support students and teach them about Brady’s job on campus.
The duo has also recently started visiting classrooms, one of the first being a freshman university seminar course. Kimberly Conner, the copy editor for the Division of Technologies Marketing and Communications team at Texas State, teaches the seminar. She was offered to invite Brady and Marsteller to her class after meeting him for the first time at the Under the Arch Meet and Greet for President Kelly Damphousse in July.
Conner loved the experience that Brady and Marsteller gave in the classroom, and she recommends freshmen meet him, especially if they need a calming personality to be around.
“Brady turns the whole stress level down,” Conner said. “He’s also very approachable, and it’s nice because sometimes with other service animals, they’re so pristine and you’re not sure if you can touch them, but with Brady, you don’t have to behave in a certain way or perform certain commands with him. It’s also amazing that he and Officer Marsteller don’t make you feel rushed or like you’re an inconvenience; it’s your own experience that you can have at your own pace.”
Also offered to Texas State students through Common Experience is Pawfficer Brady’s Common Reading Book Club. The book club will get together to discuss this year’s Common Reading book, “Weapons of Math Destruction: How Big Data Increases Inequality and Threatens Democracy” by Cathy O’Neil on Thursday, Oct. 20. Brady’s presence will ease the stress and anxiety that being in a group setting may present for some students.
Natalie Coody, a criminal justice junior and student worker for Carmichael, believes that the personality that Brady has will allow students to destress, especially with the help of one of his favorite treats.
“Brady is just such a sweet dog, and he just loves everybody,” Coody said. “You have to be careful when you open the ice machine though, because he will magically appear. He brings a lot of calmness to people, and I think having him around is like a sense of security.”
The future for Marsteller and Brady is strong, and Marsteller only hopes it expands into something greater to help students and alter the negative reputation of mental health.
“I would love to see this program grow,” Marsteller said. “I know mental health has always had some sort of negative stigma to it and I want to change that. To do that, I want this program to grow so other police departments and universities could look at us and think ‘I want to do what they’re doing.'”
To keep up with Brady and Officer Marsteller, visit their Instagram, Twitter or Facebook @PawfficerBrady. To schedule a meeting with Brady, visit the UPD website. To sign up for Pawfficer Brady’s Common Reading Book Club, visit the RSVP website.

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  • Texas State University Police Department Mental Health Officer Kendra Marsteller and Pawficcer Brady pose outside Old Main, Friday, June 24, 2022, at Texas State.

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