Studies show that the mere presence of a dog, to be able to pet a dog, releases endorphins that can calm a person down. When people are in crisis, a dog can help settle them.
When police officers respond to trauma-based events on campus, emotions can be intense, which is why Bridgewater State University Police acquired Mikey, the department’s newest K-9. Researchers have long known that dogs can have a positive impact on someone in crisis.
“Studies show that the mere presence of a dog, to be able to pet a dog, releases endorphins that can calm a person down,” said Mikey’s handler Detective Sergeant Robert McEvoy. “When people are in crisis, a dog can help settle them.”
The 2-year-old American black labrador female was acquired through Puppies Behind Bars, a nonprofit organization that trains incarcerated individuals to raise service dogs for wounded war veterans and first responders, as well as explosive-detection K-9s for law enforcement and facility dogs for police departments.
She is the second K-9 to join the department, following the acquisition last year of Zach, a dog that was also trained through Puppies Behind Bars, an organization that receives high marks from Bridgewater officers.
“We are very grateful. They are known for producing some of the best working dogs in the country and we are very fortunate to have both Zach and Mikey,” said Deputy Chief Glen Anderson.
Police Chief David H. Tillinghast was looking for additional resources to help deal with an increase in mental health crises affecting young people.
“BSU is not immune to societal issues,” said Anderson. “Having Zach and Mikey provides us with more tools.”
Since arriving on campus last year, Zach has worked in dual roles as a community resource dog and explosive-detection K-9. Along with his handler, Capt. Ryan Tepper, he’s become a familiar face on campus and has helped bridge the gap between law enforcement and members of the BSU community.
In Mikey’s role as a facility dog, she will operate more behind-the-scenes.
“She will work more one-on-one with community members and respond to help a person who is in crisis,” McEvoy said. “Her job will be to help settle the person down, so we can best proceed and make the individual feel better.”
Together with McEvoy, Mikey will also work with the Veteran’s Center, BSU Counseling Program and the Sexual Violence Advocacy and Support Center.
Furthermore, Mikey will help support officer wellness.
“Law enforcement is a stressful job in general, you see things you don’t necessarily want to see, and you are exposed to it routinely,” McEvoy said. “Mikey will be able to assist not only with BSU community members, but also members of our police department.”
Tillinghast is thrilled to have Mikey join the team.
“I am sure that Mikey and her handler will be received as warmly as Zach and Captain Tepper have been, and that they will be equally successful in supporting the department’s outreach efforts,” he said.
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