K9S FOR WARRIORS AND SURFSIDE POLICE DEPARTMENT INTRODUCE 'OFFICER MIKE' IN THE WAKE OF THE SURFSIDE COLLAPSE ONE YEAR AGO
SURFSIDE, Fla., June 21, 2022
'OFFICER MIKE,' THERAPY DOG DONATED BY K9S FOR WARRIORS, PROVIDES CARE AND COMFORT TO FIRST RESPONDERS
SURFSIDE, Fla., June 21, 2022 /PRNewswire/ -- Officer Mike may be the newest member of the Surfside Police Department, but in his six months walking the beat, he has already made an undeniable impact on his fellow officers.
That's because Officer Mike is not your average man in blue. He is a fluffy goldendoodle and retired Service Dog who came to the Surfside Police Department courtesy of K9s For Warriors' Station Dog program. He is trained to lower anxiety and stress among officers following the Champlain Tower collapse one year ago this week.
K9s For Warriors, the nation's largest provider of trained Service Dogs for military veterans suffering from PTSD, traumatic brain injury, and/or military sexual assault, and the Town of Surfside formally introduced Officer Mike to the public today in a ceremony at Veterans Park in memory of the lives lost one year ago.
"At K9s For Warriors, we know heroes are found in every community. That's why we're dedicated to providing life-saving dogs to our first responders, just like we do for our military veterans," said Rory Diamond, CEO of K9s For Warriors. "Our Station Dog program gives law enforcement and first responders an unconventional tool, a therapy dog, to help alleviate the stress and trauma they experience daily while serving our communities. We are thrilled Officer Mike is doing just that for our officers in Surfside after experiencing such devastating loss almost one year ago."
Surfside Police officers were among the first to arrive at the site of the Champlain Tower collapse on June 24, 2021. The catastrophic collapse claimed the lives of 98 people and local first responders heard the cries of those underneath the rubble, feeling helpless as they were unable to reach them. The hours, days, and months that passed since that devastating day have been anything but easy for the first responders and law enforcement who worked tirelessly to save as many people as they could.
Recognized as a therapy dog through the American Kennel Club, Officer Mike is providing relief, love, laughter and at times, a needed distraction for the department and town. The Town of Surfside brought him in to help their officers stay present and adequately process their emotions following traumatic events and have already seen an immensely positive impact on the officers, first responders, and staff. During the weeks and months since he became a Station Dog, Officer Mike has also been there to help comfort victims' families and community members.
"I am truly proud to have Officer Mike serving as our Station Dog," said Rogelio Torres, Chief of Police. "In addition to providing emotional support for our officers and community, he is an outstanding ambassador for our Police Department and a real extension of our extraordinary team."
As part of its mission, K9s For Warriors partners with law enforcement and first responder agencies to donate reliable, high quality K9s to provide emotional support to law enforcement officers, firefighters, dispatchers, victims, and others who are repeatedly exposed to traumatic events in the line of duty. Although these dogs are not Service Dogs and are not qualified to be paired with a veteran, they have retired from Service Dog work or received extensive training from K9s For Warriors' trainers prior to starting their career as a Station Dog.
"Time and time again, K9s For Warriors has seen the effects a Service Dog has on a Warrior as they continue to confront their service-related trauma," said Greg Wells, K9s For Warriors Station Dog manager, K9 For Warriors graduate, and former law enforcement. "Those experiences are not dissimilar to the stressors that our law enforcement and first responder communities accumulate during their careers. As former law enforcement and a military veteran, it means more to me than I could ever explain to share the healing power of dogs with the brave men and women who put their lives on the line every day in our communities."
"Surfside's Police Department, Town Administration, and residents are forever grateful to the incredible team at K9s for Warriors for blessing us with Officer Mike," said Andrew Hyatt, Town Manager. "Over the past few months, his presence has brought a loving, warm energy to a community in need of healing."
About K9s For Warriors
Determined to end veteran suicide, K9s For Warriors is the nation's largest provider of trained Service Dogs to military veterans suffering from PTSD, traumatic brain injury and/or military sexual trauma. With most dogs coming from high-kill rescue shelters, this innovative program allows the K9/Warrior team to build an unwavering bond that facilitates their collective healing and recovery. This treatment method is backed by scientific research (from Purdue University's OHAIRE Lab) demonstrating Service Dogs' ability to help mitigate their veteran's symptoms of PTSD while simultaneously restoring their confidence and independence. Founded in 2011 as a 501 (c)(3) nonprofit organization, K9s For Warriors remains committed to bringing widespread awareness to veterans' mental health and contributing to policy-level reform.
The organization's four primary business operation facilities include: K9s For Warriors National Headquarters (Ponte Vedra, FL), Gold Family Campus (Alachua, FL), Petco Love K9 Center (San Antonio, TX), and K9s For Warriors at Heidi's Village (Phoenix, AZ).
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SOURCE K9s For Warriors