Secaucus therapy dog offers vaccine support

Oakley lightened the mood for seniors

While Secaucus has been distributing vaccines at the Point of Distribution (POD) at the Recreation Center at 1200 Koelle Blvd., not everyone can get there.

The Secaucus Department of Health, the Secaucus Housing Authority (SHA), Town Administration, Senior Services, and the Secaucus Police Department are making vaccinations more accessible to seniors.

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“Many seniors were unable to travel to our vaccine POD at the Recreation Center, so we offered to bring the vaccine to them,” Mayor Michael Gonnelli said. “Depending on when and how much vaccine we get, we will continue to return to the senior buildings until all those who want the vaccine are vaccinated.”

On Jan. 27, two special sessions of vaccinations were held at the community rooms of the Elms and Kroll Heights, two of the three SHA senior buildings. Due to the limited number of vaccines, Gonnelli said the town was only able to offer vaccinations to the senior-most members.

All paws on deck

Secaucus has arranged for a police therapy dog to soothe seniors during their observation period after receiving the vaccine.

While Vaccination Coordinators registered the residents and nurses administered the Moderna vaccine, Police Officer Taylor Ensmann was on hand with his very special partner Oakley, the therapy dog.

Oakley lightened the mood for many senior residents.

Oakley has been hard at work soothing the community.

“Having Oakley there was a pleasant surprise and a big help to some seniors who may have been a bit stressed about getting a vaccine,” said Health Department Coordinator Christine Aguilera. “He was definitely the star of the day.”

Last year, Oakley joined the Secaucus Police Department as a therapy dog to enhance community relations with police, following conversations between his owner Officer Ensmann and Police Chief Dennis Miller. The Therapy Dog Program aims to assist the public, first responders, and the SPD cope with traumatic events.

Oakley, a golden retriever, is a certified therapy dog, trained to provide support to people, often in settings such as hospitals, nursing homes, schools, libraries, or disaster areas.

For updates on this and other stories, check and follow us on Twitter @hudson_reporter. Daniel Israel can be reached at

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