A group of 30 Labradoodles have been dispatched across the country as part of a program to supply first responders with a therapy dog. Hope is coming to Grand Rapids. She will be permanently stationed in Grand Rapids at AMR (American Medical Response).

Photo by Matt Chesin on Unsplash

The program, called Rog the Dog, is part of a health and wellness campaign launched by FirstNet— a high-speed internet service meant for first responders, built by At&T.  Dusty Vandermeer, an operations supervisor with AMR, and the guy who will be working with Hope directly, told Fox 17,

She's just shy of a year-and-a-half old now. I don't think she has a mean bone in her body.

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Hope stays at AMR nightly. She just recently received her therapy dog certification. Sgt Dan Adams, of the Grand Rapids Police Department said,

We've actually been talking for a while, you know, about having a dog here at the department, and what other tools can we utilize to really help our employees. It would be great to hope we never have to see her in action, but unfortunately... I'm sure that time will come.

Photo by Thomas Park on Unsplash

Why a therapy dog for first responders? Compared to the general population, first responders experience higher rates of depression, PTSD, burnout, anxiety and other mental health issues. According to Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, it’s estimated 20-25% of all first responders experience post-traumatic stress. Therapy dogs are proven to have a positive impact on mental and physical health. Studies have shown that interacting with animals can improve coping and recovery, enhance morale, decrease stress, and reduce the effects of PTSD and emotional distress.

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