Pets & Animals

Tiny dog makes big impact as Utah police department's adorable mascot

A tiny 12-week-old toy rat terrier named Spot is having a huge impact on morale at a police department just north of Salt Lake City.

Stephanie Gonzales / Stephanie Gonzales

Stephanie Gonzales, a crime prevention specialist for the Woods Cross Police Department, told TODAY.com her family adopted young Spot — full name, Spoticus — "right before Christmas," when her husband's co-worker had an unexpected litter of puppies. Soon thereafter, Gonzales had her reasons for bringing Spot to work.

Amber Bowman / Amber Bowman

"I wanted to show off my new dog," she said with a laugh. "Of course, they thought he was the cutest little thing."

Amber Bowman / Amber Bowman

And while Spot doesn't have any official duties, he does offer a valuable service.

"The detective walked in, he was in a grumpy mood," Gonzales said of Spot's first day reporting for duty. "He'd just had a horrible call, and [Spot] just runs up and completely loves him. And [Spot] does that with every officer."

Stephanie Gonzales / Stephanie Gonzales

The impression Spot had on her co-workers and visitors that first day convinced Gonzales to bring Spot along on a daily basis. "Everybody who came in the office — whether you work here or wanted to make a police report — has been like, 'Oh, what a cute dog!'" she added. "Even if you're in the worst mood, I mean, [there's] a little puppy. How do you not love that?"

Stephanie Gonzales / Stephanie Gonzales

Spot's greatest accomplishment during his short tenure was calming a young boy who'd wandered into the police station.

"We had a lost boy who was brought to the station, probably two weeks ago," Gonzales said. "He did not know who police were, and was very, very reluctant to come in. But as soon as he was in here, and he saw the dog, he was like, 'Oh, a dog!' We let him throw [Spot] a toy. He completely warmed up, finally told us his name, finally got his phone number, and we were able to get him back to his parents."

Stephanie Gonzales / Stephanie Gonzales

In addition to learning a few tricks ranging from "stick 'em up" to rolling over, Spot is described by Gonzales as "spunky, willing to learn and very energetic" — that is, when he's not napping on a giant pile of stuffed animals. "As soon as he hears the door open, he jumps off my chair to the door to greet anybody who comes," she added. "Not one person has complained."

Back at home, Spot continues to be affectionate, palling around with Gonzales' husband, four children and two bullmastiffs — all dwarfing the pup who goes by "Officer Spot" on the police department's website.

Stephanie Gonzales / Stephanie Gonzales
Spot relaxes with Stephanie Gonzales' other dogs, Petra and Junos.

Since Spot has been known to sleep on the job, a promotion might not be in his immediate future. But he doesn't seem to mind.

"He's just happy with Slim Jims and cheese," Gonzales said.

Stephanie Gonzales / Stephanie Gonzales

Follow TODAY.com writer Chris Serico on Twitter.

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