SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. (FOX 10) -- The Scottsdale Police Department's dispatch center just hired on its newest member, a four-legged friend that is helping ease daily stress for dispatchers.
Scottsdale Police is the first dispatch center in Arizona to provide this type of service for its dispatchers. Due to the job, some dispatchers can suffer from stress, anxiety and even PTSD. The force has had the rescue pup with them for just two months, but she's already making a big difference.
The pup is a two-year-old named Poppy.
"She goes up to each person when they come in for the day, she makes her way around to the pods, as we call them, and says hello to everybody," said Karen Sutherland, Communications Manager with Scottsdale Police.
Poppy is a SMART dog, short for Stress Management And Relaxation for Telecommunicators. Plans to get this type of service have been in the works for about a year now.
"We hope and prepare for everything to go well, but there are times where it just doesn't," said Sutherland. "When that happens, the dispatchers carry that with them, and any of us who've been dispatchers can remember those calls throughout our career. There's a few that just stick with us forever."
Now, Poppy is there to provide the much-needed comfort, kisses and lots of love.
"She's absolutely helped," said Catherine Salazar, a Dispatch Supervisor with Scottsdale Police. "We've had a few calls that were pretty traumatic, where a dispatcher sought out Poppy to hold her and to calm her down, or they use it as I'm going to take Poppy for a break now, and they can get out of the room and decompress after a bad call."
"Just that dog that can offer that comfort, when you can't get up and leave your desk and you have to be there to take that next call," said Sutherland.
The dispatchers say Poppy has also helped with team bonding. They've all chipped in to take care of her, get her food, toys and they take turns taking her on walks.