The Saginaw Police Department’s Victim Services Unit received the therapy dog as part of their partnership with Michigan Doodle Rescue Connect, a pet rescue and adoption agency based out of Midland, Michigan. The agreement with MDRC was approved by Saginaw City Council at the Monday, December 21 meeting.
Reba, a 5 month-old mini Australian Shepherd, will slowly be assimilated into the Police Department building and is gradually beginning to meet department members. Reba will begin her training in January with a basic obedience class, followed by a few additional classes throughout the winter and into the spring ending with training and certification from Therapy Dog International. Once she’s trained, Reba will work with Lieutenant Dave Kendziorski and other officers as a member of the SPD-VSU Therapy K-9 program.
“Reba will be training with me over the course of the next month or so to get fully adjusted to her new job and environment,” said Lieutenant Kendziorski. “Reba will be specifically trained for her current task as a therapy dog, not as a detection or search dog — different than a service animal,” Kendziorski explained. “Reba will be used to support victim advocacy and used in interviews with juvenile victims, with victims of domestic abuse, and on scene after traumatic events, in addition to being a regular uplifting force within the department.”
The concept of having a therapy dog available while engaging witnesses and victims, and also being available to provide support to department members as well as strengthening relations within the community is a new program for law enforcement. The Saginaw Police Department- Victim Services Unit, which was established in 2015, is excited for this opportunity. This is the first time that the MDRC has matched a dog to a police department.
Within a law enforcement setting, a therapy dog can greatly reduce heightened short-term anxiety following a critical situation with the added effect of assisting victims increase their sense of recall during their interactions with law enforcement. This in turn will increase the chances for a successful investigation and prosecution. Additionally, the SPD- VSU Therapy K9 program will assist all staff within the SPD cope with exposure to traumatic events, and support efforts aimed at increasing resilience to improve mental health and wellness.
Michigan Doodle Rescue Connect, Inc. will cover any and all expenses related to the feeding, licensing, training and medical care of this canine.
Police Chief Bob Ruth commented on the importance of a therapy dog to support all those who are affected by violence and trauma, “At a time when so many are facing hardships and loss, we need to offer additional support to our victims and those impacted by traumatic crime. There couldn’t be a better time for this sort of resource in our community. I want to thank Michigan Doodle Rescue Connect for their partnership and support.”
Below are pictures of Reba with Lieutenant Kendziorski and with members of the VSU team:
###About Michigan Doodle Rescue Connect, Inc.:
MDRC is a 501c3 nonprofit pet rescue and adoption agency committed to matching dogs to people. They are primarily an owner surrender rescue. The rescue provides mental health support, dental and physical health support for each dog. To contact Michigan Doodle Rescue Connect, Inc., call (248) 690-6137 or follow them on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/MICHIGANDOODLERESCUECONNECT/
About Saginaw Police Department Victim Services Unit:
The Saginaw Police Department Victim Services Unit is committed to advocating for the rights of victims throughout the criminal justice process; assisting with the coordination of law enforcement efforts, addressing victim needs with service provisions and innovative programming while strengthening support for the SPD staff and the community. For more information on the Saginaw Police Department Victim Services Unit, contact 989-759-1260.
Click here to read Michigan Doodle Rescue Connect Press Release.