Golden Retriever Cooper Shot in the face

Charges upgraded in shooting of Cooper
By Aaron Sanborn, Democrat Staff Writer

ROCHESTER — The misdemeanor animal cruelty charge previously leveled against the 23-year-old Rochester man accused of shooting Cooperthe dog has been upgraded to a Class B felony. Rochester Police Prosecutor Joseph Fricano amended the complaint during Robert Welch’s arraignment Monday morning at Rochester District Court alleging Welch “purposely” committed the crime. “During the course of the investigation there were facts indicating he purposely shot the dog,” Fricano said. Fricano wouldn’t elaborate on what those facts were.Welch of 36 Farmington Road, Apt. 2D8 is accused of shooting Cooper, the well-known golden retriever from the commercials for Rochester Lincoln Mercury Toyota Dodge, which is located next to Northgate Apartments where Welch lives.

Police say Welch shot Cooper on Jan. 12 with a BB handgun in the woods behind the apartment complex while the dog was roaming near some trash containers. Police claim Welch was about 20 feet from the dog when he fired the single shot.

Cooper sustained a wound in his muzzle just below his right eye, which required three stitches.

Click here to learn more and see how Cooper is doing . . .

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Golden Retriever Lazer now on the job

Help from the community brings balance dog to Windsor Locks child
By Megan Collins, Journal Inquirer

Ann and Cora Mitchell’s new dog, Lazer, is a golden retriever that does more than just sit, stay, and lie down. After months of raising money to buy a “balance dog” for her daughter with cerebral palsy, Ann Mitchell of Windsor Locks was finally able to make Lazer an official member of the family last week.

For several years, Cora, 10, had a dog that would help her with her balance when she and her mother lived in Pennsylvania. But when the two came to Connecticut about a year ago, they had to give the dog up, Mitchell said.

With the help of the dog in Pennsylvania, Cora’s seizures were minimal, but since then, her seizures have increased, and her balance has been compromised on many occasions.

In November of 2006, Mitchell began raising money for a new balance dog after Cora’s doctor recommended that she get one through East Coast Assistance Dogs, an organization that raises, trains, and places dogs with people who have lost some of their independence as a result of a disability.

Unable to work because of the amount of school Cora was missing due to her seizures, Mitchell enlisted the help of businesses and members of her community in raising the $6,500 she needed for the dog.

Mitchell said last week that after generous contributions from friends, members of her church, and even strangers, she was finally able to afford the dog, and began “doggie boot camp” with Cora and Lazer on Feb. 1.

From the time they are puppies, dogs at East Coast Assistance Dogs receive over 300 hours of training, during which time they learn more than 80 commands. With this training, Lazer will be able to help Cora if she falls, assist her in getting up and down the stairs, and can even help her get undressed.

For two weeks in Dobbs Ferry, N.Y., Mitchell and her daughter participated in daily training with their new dog and learned how to interact with Lazer on trips to the mall, grocery store, or any other public place. Mitchell said that Cora also had to take a written test each day to assess what she had learned throughout the training process.

Cora’s final test came last Tuesday when she had to perform specific tasks to prove that she could handle the dog in public, Mitchell said. The training process took place at The Children’s Village, which is a place that offers help to troubled kids between the ages of 8 and 21, Mitchell said.

She described the training as a “win-win situation” for everyone involved since the kids actually help with the training and are therefore exposed to a positive, life-affirming experience. “The people have been awesome. It’s taken a lot of extra time with her,” but the trainers were very patient and helpful, Mitchell said.

There’s more . . .