A Dog on Duty – Flagstaff Business News
Eden will soon comfort victims of crime.
Sometimes you need a patient friend to offer unconditional love to get you through tough times and lead you to a happier place. For many in the Quad Cities area, Eden will be that friend.
This 8-month-old Goldendoodle reported to the Prescott Police Department (PPD) Victim Services Unit and took on her role as an emotional support/installation dog, a job for which she is fully certified.
Born on May 13, 2021, Eden was given to PPD by the Arizona Department of Public Safety.
Prescott Police Chief Amy Bonney, a Prescott native who took office in June 2021, took the call with the offer.
“Having an emotional support dog in our Victim Services Unit was something we had been looking forward to for some time, but other needs always arose,” she said. “The opportunity given to us by the Arizona Department of Public Safety was simply an opportunity we couldn’t turn down. We are so happy to be able to offer this service to our community and especially to victims of crime. We know that victims can heal faster and move forward when involved in the justice process. Having Eden to support them through all phases of the process will greatly benefit them and our community in the long run.
Senior attorney Amy Fillingim, who has worked for PPD since 2010, explained how the gift came about: “They had an emotional support dog that they had already purchased and paid for the dog and lifelong training. They actually had two dogs, a male and a female, brother and sister. They said, “We’d like to give you the first dibs,” so we picked the female.
An ever-growing body of scientific research shows that regular interaction with gentle, caring, supportive and loving emotional support dogs promotes positive mental, emotional and physical benefits and helps reduce stress levels, manage depression and promote an overall sense of well-being.
The donation from DPS was an auspicious surprise, as there had been complications with a federal grant that may have funded a support animal for PPD. “In 2020, when we were ready to renew our grant, COVID hit and we weren’t allowed to make any additions or changes to the grant as it was,” Fillingim said. “I thought to myself, ‘The next chance I have to apply for an emotional support dog will be 2023, when this grant expires. “”
Fillingim says she and the police department have been chasing a new recruit like Eden for at least six years. “When I came back from dispatch to the PPD and started building the victim services unit, that was one of my immediate five-year goals. I really wanted to bring a dog into the victim program for everyone.
Support a support dog
Although the cost of the animal and its training were covered by DPS, there were unforeseen expenses that had not been budgeted for. “We asked ourselves, ‘How are we going to finance this dog?’ “recalls Fillingim. “Other expenses include bedding, kennel, food, toys, harness, vest and veterinary services including vaccinations and neutering – everything needed to have a dog.”
She says these types of dogs can cost between $10,000 and $15,000, which includes lifelong training. “Eden’s managers in the department are also trained in accordance with his skills,” Fillingim said. “For her first year with our service, we estimated Eden’s expenses at around $8,000, with subsequent years dropping significantly for maintenance.”
Quad Cities Business Newsas well as its sister publication, Flagstaff Business News, teamed up with PPD and the Prescott Police Foundation to raise funds to pay for his equipment and other needs. Other local businesses also support Eden.
“We have a local pet supply company donating her food, another local company donating her baths and there’s a retired groomer who has offered to groom her for free,” Fillingim said.
With an initial goal of raising $10,000, two fundraising events are planned in Prescott: Yoga for Eden, Feb. 12 at the Founding Fathers Collective, and Bowling for Eden, Feb. 27, at the Plaza Bowl. Eden will attend both events to meet community members. The yoga fundraiser will include a silent auction, one hour of free yoga, a personal care gift bag, food and mimosas. The bowling event will include a raffle and silent auction, prizes, pizza and an Eden tote bag.
Calming victims, officers
Eden’s name was chosen to reflect her call to service. She was named after DPS Trooper Officer Tyler Edenhofer, who on his last night of field training was shot and killed in the line of duty on July 25, 2018. He is the youngest soldier DPS deceased.
Eden will primarily assist victims of crime with forensic and other interviews, court testimony and therapy sessions with counselors or doctors. “If we have a victim who is called to testify, Eden can stay at their feet during the testimony, to provide comfort during a stressful time,” Fillingim said. “She will be in the testimony box, not near the jury or the staff. She is off leash and is trained to stay in place for over two hours.
Additionally, Eden will provide comfort to PPD staff members in high stress situations. “It will be used for recess – when the SWAT team is called back after an incident, it will be there to play ball with them, to help them decompress,” she explained.
“I was told, ‘Don’t be surprised when these 200-pound men are lying on the ground spooning with the dogs.’ They tell me it’s quite a show.
Eden’s skill set also includes working with children. “One of his jobs is to crawl, a non-intimidating puppy crawling on his stomach,” she said. “She walks up to a child and bonds with him as a sweet dog. It eliminates a lot of the fear; she looks like a teddy bear. Eden becomes more and more cute. I’m so excited for the community to see it.
And, because she will be an “establishment” dog, she will be allowed to walk around the police station. “She can walk into the sergeant’s office and spend an hour with him. She can hang out with the guys in the patrol briefing room as they huddle together for the first half hour of their shift, interacting with them before heading out into the field. There are two floors. She can navigate the stairwell. She even received a call to switch to [Prescott] Town Hall to see city officials and engineers.
Additionally, Eden will have flexible time dedicated to the dispatch center, which is across the street. “The dispatchers are the first responders; it’s a stressful job,” said Fillingim, who was a dispatcher at PPD for five and a half years.
“There are several types of police dogs, such as biting dogs, cadaver dogs, bomb dogs and drug dogs,” Fillingim said. “Bitter dogs are intensively trained to help law enforcement apprehend criminals. Many people know these breeds to be Belgian Malinois, Czech Shepherds, and Dutch Shepherds for bite dogs, bomb and drug dogs are usually Labrador retrievers, and cadaver dogs are usually bloodhounds. Breeds chosen for emotional support/settlement dogs may be Labrador retrievers, golden retrievers, or a “doodle,” such as a labradoodle, bernedoodle, or goldendoodle, such as Eden. These breeds are known for their work ethic, temperament, and loyalty. Doodle breeds are particularly valued for their gentle dispositions.
“The Prescott Police Department Victim Services Unit is only six years old,” Fillingim said. “Having a system-based program integrated with law enforcement is a great tool. This innovative program helps us achieve our department’s vision of being a leader in our region by providing superior public safety services, while continuing to strive to exceed our standards and put the best interests of our citizens at the forefront of our daily practice.
For tickets or more information about the bowling event, call Ann Herrington, QCBN/FBN Publicity Manager, at 928-420-4407. For more information about the yoga event, contact Breathe Play Love Yoga at 605-940-1607. QCBN
By Betsey Bruner, BN