When students head back to campus this fall, they’re likely to “spot” a new four-legged member of the Viking family. Otto, Salem State’s first campus community dog, reports for duty in September. Bringing Otto to campus was the vision of Gene Labonte, AVP/Chief of Police, who has long wanted a dog to help represent the department and spark more engagement with the campus community.
As a campus community dog, Otto’s role is to be a positive presence for students, faculty and staff. He’ll be attending major events and making regular visits through campus with his owner, Nick DiFranco '11. Nick, a security systems engineer who works with the university police and information security team, has been working with Otto since he came home as a puppy last fall. (In true Salem State fashion, he joined his new family on Halloween.)
Otto, who turns one on September 5, is an Australian Cattle Dog. He has spent much of his first year exploring the beaches and patios of the North Shore to prepare for a very busy social life at Salem State. Since he was born to two working goat-herding dogs, it’s no surprise that Otto has been expending his puppy energy with plenty of games of fetch.
While his initial introduction to the bustle of campus life will be gradual, you’ll notice Otto on campus more and more as the year progresses. You’ll know him from his unique “Pet Me” vest, complete with SSU police badge. Be sure to come say hello to our newest Viking!