Okla. PD gets therapy dog to help officers, victims
Therapy dogs can help calm victims to better recall incidents, and they're also stress relievers for cops, organizers said
By Plamedie Ifasso
The Daily Ardmoreite, Okla.
ARDMORE, Okla. — Heroes with Hope has been approved to provide the Ardmore Police Department with a therapy dog.
Heroes with Hope Executive Director Melissa Woolly said the organization has been working on having a therapy dog for a couple months. Woolly said she and other board members were talking about the benefits of having a therapy dog. Woolly said she reached out to other departments in Oklahoma who have therapy dogs to see how it was working for them and heard nothing but positive comments. After looking at the benefits and reaching out to other departments, Woolly said the organization decided to sponsor a therapy dog for the police department.
Woolly said they presented their proposal to the chief of police, and after he expressed interest, the proposal was presented to the city manager and then the city council who approved it. Woolly said Heroes with Hope has a designated account for the canines and anyone is interested in supporting monetarily are encouraged to contact them.
"Now we're just waiting on a few final things," Woolly said. "There is some equipment that is going to have to be installed in one of the units which is a heat alarm. In order to be following the state guidelines for any kind of canine on patrol, we have to have a heat alarm. So we are currently getting funds together to purchase that and have it installed."
Woolly said having a therapy dog present is beneficial to both victims and officers. The therapy dog will be used during interviews, and Woolly said therapy dogs can often help lower blood pressure and help victims recall critical incidents. The therapy dog will also be on patrol for a minimum of three days starting out, Woolly said.
"In visiting with other departments, they said some of the officers when they're working some really in-depth cases or something that is very traumatic, they can just take some time off," Woolly said. "They can take a time out, get the dog and play fetch or just go outside and take the dog out for its break. It helps them destress."
Woolly said a therapy dog named Rip has already been chosen for the job. In the future, Woolly said she personally hopes they will be able to provide the department with more than one dog.
"I think it's going to be very beneficial not just for the officers but for the community," Woolly said. "I think before we know it we'll probably be adding an additional therapy dog because I think we're going to see that one dog can't fulfill the need. We're going to evaluate within six months and see what the dog has been utilized for and then go from there."
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