One of Star’s specialty moves was her lean toward those who pet her. “She was definitely a big leaner,” Simmons said.
Simmons first came across Star during her days as an animal control officer with Riverside County. The then-4-month-old pup was inside the county’s former shelter location on Wilderness Avenue in Riverside.
“She had been at the shelter for three weeks,” Simmons said. “She was so skinny. She looked depressed. She looked like she might keel over at any moment.”
Simmons went on to work as a state humane officer, based in San Bernardino and then, in mid-2009, started with the city of Fontana. Everywhere she went, her dog was the superstar by her side. Many of the Fontana Police officers knew of Star’s hero status for those victimized by abusers and several officers sent Simmons messages with their condolences.
“I think dogs are just such comforting souls,” Simmons said. “Especially for those who are hurt and suffering. When an animal comes into your life, it’s such a gift. A dog can especially help comfort, provide confidence and self-worth. So many victims go through decades of pain. If an animal can help relieve some of that pain, it’s a step forward.”
Simmons herself was touched early on by an animal during a childhood that would find her living in 13 different foster homes in the Inland region. A quarter horse named Bullet at a foster home in Rancho Cucamonga became one of her jobs. “I could not wait to get up to care for that horse,” Simmons said. “I just loved every minute with that horse.”