An adorable 5-year-old Labrador was fired from her job as a guide dog for being unable to curb her enthusiasm over chasing squirrels. Despite multiple warnings, River was let go from her job.
However, the former guide dog has landed a brand new job with the police.
Since she has a kind and calm nature – minus her love of chasing squirrels – she was the perfect dog for a pilot project being undertaken by the Maidstone police station.
River is now going to be in charge of keeping vulnerable people who’ve been arrested calm after they’ve been brought into police custody – this includes juveniles and people with anxiety, depression, or mental illness.
River was tested and was accredited as a therapy dog by the “Pets as Therapy” organization back in 2016. After that, she spent time assisting children in a special educational needs school.
River had such an impact on the school, that they decided to purchase their own therapy dog – giving River time to find a new gig.
The Kent Police were the ones who spotted her potential, and River was then further tested to see if she had the temperament and resilience to deal with the unpredictable environment.
She passed with ease, thus beginning her new role of support at the beginning of December.
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The police force has policies in place to ensure River’s safety, including having a handler always watching over her, access to water and food, and regular breaks.
Sergeant Ian Sutton of Kent Police is the one responsible for coordinating the custody canine initiative.
He stated, “We are often dealing with people in crisis and although their behavior has resulted in an arrest, they could be suffering from depression, anxiety or mental illness. Young people may find themselves in custody too and in some cases, they are scared and daunted by the experience, whilst others may have difficulty in communicating.”
“Being detained can exacerbate these issues and we are committed to ensuring that police custody is a safe and supportive environment for both police, staff and detainees. River has joined the team to offer emotional support to people who are experiencing difficulties – she provides a therapeutic benefit to those in crisis and helps to counter some of the negative behavior we sometimes experience in custody,” Sutton continued.
He added, “Since beginning work with us she has had a notable positive impact on those she has spent time and the atmosphere in custody improves when she is on shift. This allows staff and officers to use their time more effectively rather than diffusing situations.”
Keep up the great work River.
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