EUSTIS – The Eustis Police Department welcomed their new resident therapy dog, an Australian Shepherd mix rescue dog named Echo.
And he stole their hearts.
“He did it,” said Police Chief Craig Capri. “Everyone here loves him. Therapy dogs help calm and relieve things, and police work can be very stressful. Anything we can do for the well-being of our officers is something I care about.”
Capri said he’s already noticed the positive effects of Echo. Around the time he was about to pull his hair out, so to speak, Echo was bouncing around and smiling from ear to ear.
“It really works,” Capri said. “It’s instantly comforting to spend just a few minutes playing with him. Besides, who doesn’t love dogs?”
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Police Support Coordinator Pam Gordon and Communications Manager Janel Fair had the idea of getting a therapy dog after hearing about other stations doing it for their officers. Therapy dogs have been used in forensic interviewing and victim situations for years, but an internal therapy dog is a fairly new concept. This is a first in the district.
“We’ve heard that it boosts morale and that it’s really good for officers, so we reached out to the Humane Society to see if they had a rescue dog,” Gordon said. “Angie was so amazing to work with us to match us with the perfect dog.”
The Humane Society of Lake County waived all adoption fees and sent Echo to basic and advanced obedience training at the Greyhound Advancement Center in Hardee County.
“It’s amazing when you can take a dog out of a bad situation and put him in a program to help others,” said Angie Kline, director of the Humane Society. “You see a total transformation in these animals. Echo has done great in training and we are so happy to have found a wonderful home for him. We still have some of his classmates at the shelter who are also looking for a home.”
PAWS Therapy Dogs and LEASH, two local organizations dedicated to animal rescue, came out Thursday to celebrate Echo with the Eustis Police Department. PAWS offered to sponsor Echo for his first year of special therapy training and to buy him a therapy dog vest.
“It benefits the whole city at no cost to the city and he’s a great addition to the team,” Capri said. “Mental health is a big issue right now, particularly among law enforcement officers, and I couldn’t be more grateful for this inexpensive way to bring some peace to our station.”
Do you want to support Echo?
The Eustis Police Department accepts donations for Echo such as food and toys. He also has an Amazon wishlist at amazon.com/hz/wishlist/ls/2VLCBOSA7CWJJ/ref=hz_ls_biz_ex?pldnSite=1.