‘He is now in service:’ Ocean City Fire Dept. launches new therapy dog program


OCEAN CITY, Md. – “He is now in service and ready for any deployment necessary,” Chief Bowers said.

Max is a 20-month-old black lab and the newest team member of the Ocean City Fire Department.

Max made his debut Monday to city leaders, first responders, and some local elementary students for the launch of the department’s new therapy dog program. “It was pretty cool to learn how much Max had to train and like go through to do all this and become a therapist dog,” Ocean City Elementary 4th Grader Joshua Rodriguez said.

“The unique thing about this program is that it’s not only for the fire department, but also for the entire city and the community at large,” Chief Bowers said.

Fire Chief Richard Bowers says Max will not only be working on the frontline, but he’ll also provide first responders with a sense of comfort and relief from daily stressors.  “We want to think every call that we go on will be taken care of in the most perfect way, but there are times when it’s not the desirable outcome and that’s just the reality of what we deal with,” Chief Bowers said.

“I think Max does a good job of allowing the first responders to just to be comfortable. To bring it out and talk about an event they might have seen, upset them, or whatever. He just kind of brings that level of comfortability,” Firefighter Ian Spice said.

“Max has received approximately 18 months of training and specialized skills. He can do different things such as open doors, pickup things, bring them to you,” OCFD Public Information Officer Ryan Whittington said.

Whittington tells us Max comes to the department from Hero Dogs, a non-profit based in Montgomery Co., who takes dogs in who may not be a fit as a service animal but become the perfect therapy or facility dogs.

“He does a great job with meeting new people, and he’s really established a bond with us here at the Ocean City Fire Department,” Spice said.

There’s also a community outreach element to the program, as the department is looking to take Max to local elementary schools for educational programming.

We’re told the program is also completely funded by community donations.

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