Pictured above: Picture courtesy of the Mooresville Police Department
Law enforcement officers face highly stressful situations on a daily basis, and a crisis can leave both the officer and the victim with residual symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder. Hoping to help combat the physical, mental and emotional stress that can come with the job, as well as bring comfort to members of the department and the community, Mooresville Police have recently welcomed a therapy dog to its ranks.
Ella, a four-year-old American Staffordshire Terrier, has been trained and registered through the Alliance of Therapy Dogs by her owner, police telecommunicator Tiffany Richburg. Richburg knows firsthand the emotional effects of witnessing tragic and stressful events, day in and day out.
“After a long, stressful night at work, I’ve always found comfort in going home to pet and love on my dogs,” said Richburg. “On occasion, we get this comfort when police canines come in to visit mid-shift.”
Because she believes the unconditional love and support that she receives from her own dogs is so vital, Richburg decided to take her Great Dane, Nova, to be tested as a therapy dog eight years ago. Nova passed, and Richburg was amazed at how her dog touched the lives of so many members of the community.
Since that time, Richburg has registered two more of her pets as therapy dogs, including Ella, who has been working as a therapy dog for almost two years. To qualify, all of Richburg’s dogs had to be rigorously tested on their temperament, obedience and professionalism in a variety of situations, along with being insured by the Alliance of Therapy Dogs. Richburg herself was trained to make sure that she could properly control her dogs, and that she and her pups worked well as a team.
After learning how other law enforcement agencies throughout the country have begun to successfully partake in therapy dog programs, including the Fayetteville Police Department in North Carolina, Richburg proposed that the Mooresville Police Department give it a try. With Richburg’s dog, Ella, already being trained and insured, the new program comes at no cost to taxpayers.
“A therapy dog provides not only emotional support for our staff, but also those who are victims of violent crimes and children in traumatic situations,” Richburg said, adding that therapy dogs are even sometimes permitted in courtrooms to comfort witnesses who are testifying. “Studies and experience show that visits from therapy dogs increases happiness, lowers stress levels, and enhances calmness and overall emotional well-being.”
Chief Damon Williams said he instituted the program on a trial run after seeing how well his staff interacted with the department’s K-9 units.
“On and off the scene, there’s a lot of stress and trauma with this job,” he said. “After this program was brought to me, I really noticed that when our staff interacted with our K-9’s, their whole mood and demeanor changed. That’s when I thought, maybe this isn’t a bad idea.”
Williams said that after observing Ella at work in the department, he’s pleased with the program’s results so far.
“Seeing how everyone reacts to her … they’re just gleeful,” he said. “They leave with a different attitude after seeing her, and she’s definitely having a good effect.”
This press release appears as received from the Mooresville Police Department with the exception of page/text/space/paragraph/general formatting details. Picture placement also excluded. All pictures included with original release may not be shown here. Separate reports contained within the same press release may have also been removed. Additionally, the different pieces of the press release may have been re-arranged. This press release was posted at WSICfm.com after being received from the agency listed. Article title and picture captions may, or may not be, part of the press release. This information does, however, reflect the information received from the Mooresville Police Department.