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Devon & Cornwall Police Federation

Wellbeing dogs are now available for police officers to spend time with in both Dorset and Devon and Cornwall forces.

19 July 2021

Wellbeing dogs are now available for police officers to spend time with in both Dorset and Devon and Cornwall forces.
Hungarian wirehaired vizsla Hogan and cocker spaniel Darcy are now on hand to assist officers who are feeling low, have attended a difficult job or are suffering from stress or trauma.
All they may ask for in return is a tummy rub or a doggie treat.
Dorset Police Federation and Devon and Cornwall Police Federation are working together and with both forces - to launch the new initiative on Monday (19 July), as part of Oskar Kilo’s OK9 Wellbeing and Trauma Support Dogs service.
Sandra Rigby, Wellbeing Lead for Dorset Police Federation and a former veterinary nurse, heard about the initiative and realised her pet dog Hogan would be perfect for it.
She said: “I thought, ‘I could do that with my dog, he’s pretty well behaved!’ Hogan has been good for my mental health, so I thought, why not let him help others too?”
Dogs are great for helping stressed police officers relax and open up, Sandra said. She added: “Dogs are non-judgemental and have a knack of picking up on when people aren’t feeling great. They give you undivided attention, and encourage you to open up a little bit, when you might be closed off and not want to engage.”
She added: “Being with a dog brings down the blood pressure and the cortisol levels in the body, which allows people to relax. All the dog wants is some cuddles and attention and the throw of a ball and they’re quite happy.”
Police officers and staff can make an appointment to have a visit with Hogan, or with Darcy, who belongs to Devon and Cornwall Police officer Cathy Veale. The dogs will also join up with the Oscar Kilo wellbeing vans when they tour the counties and are available to be used in mutual aid to other police forces. Darcy has also recently helped officers at the recent G7 Summit many of which were away from home.
Sandra said: “If you make an appointment, either Cathy or myself will come along with the dog, and it can either be one-to-one or as a group. With Hogan I'm quite happy to go on a walk or a run or a swim in the sea to get people to relax.
“People’s faces light up when a dog is in the room – you’ll talk a bit about the dog and then you move onto other things like what’s stressing them out that day or how’s things at work, how’s things at home. Then we can further signpost people to other support mechanisms.”