The Saginaw Police Department has acquired a new therapy dog named Reba which will allow the Victim Services Unit (VSU) to enhance its overall services to victims experiencing trauma and provide additional support to SPD personnel.
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.
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.”