A Dog on Duty – Flagstaff Business News
Eden will soon comfort victims of crime.
Sometimes you need a patient friend who will offer unconditional love to see you through tough times and take you to a happier place. For many in the Quad Cities area, Eden will be that friend.
This 8 month old Goldendoodle has signed up for official duty in the Prescott Police Department (PPD) Victim Service Unit and has assumed her role as an emotional support/facility dog, a job for which she is fully certified.
Eden was born on May 13, 2021 and turned over to PPD by the Arizona Department of Public Safety.
Prescott Police Commissioner Amy Bonney, a native of Prescott, who took up her post in June 2021, received the call with the offer.
“We’ve been looking forward to having an emotional support dog in our Victim Services department for a while, but other needs always came along,” she said. “We simply couldn’t turn down the opportunity the Arizona Department of Public Safety offered us. We are very pleased to be able to offer this service to our community and in particular to victims of crime. We know that victims can recover faster and move forward when they are involved in the justice process. Having Eden to support them through all stages of the process will greatly benefit them and our community in the long run.”
Senior Advocate Amy Fillingim, who has been with PPD since 2010, explained how the gift came about: “They had already bought an emotional support dog and paid for the dog and the lifetime training. They actually had two dogs, a male and a female, brother and sister. They said, ‘We’d like to give you the first part,’ so we went with the female.”
A growing body of scientific research shows that interacting regularly with gentle, caring, supportive, and loving emotional support dogs promotes positive mental, emotional, and physical benefits, and helps reduce stress, manage depression, and promote a holistic sense of well-being.
The gift from DPS came as a promising surprise given the complications with a federal grant that may have funded a support animal for PPD. “In 2020, when we were ready to renew our scholarship, COVID hit and we were not allowed to make any additions or changes to the scholarship as it is,” Fillingim said. “I thought to myself, ‘The next chance I have to apply for an emotional support dog is in 2023, when this grant expires.'”
Fillingim says she and the police have been tracking a new recruit like Eden for at least six years. “When I came over from dispatch at PPD and started building the Victim Services Unit, that was one of my immediate five-year goals. I really wanted to add a dog to the sacrifice program for everyone.”
assistance of a service dog
Although the cost of the animal and its training were covered by DPS, there were unforeseen expenses that were not budgeted for. “We asked ourselves, ‘How are we going to fund this dog?'” recalls Fillingim. “Other expenses include bedding, kennel, food, toys, dishes, vest and veterinary services including vaccinations and spaying – everything that comes with owning a dog.”
She says these types of dogs can cost anywhere from $10,000 to $15,000, including a lifetime of training. “Eden’s caregivers in the department are also being trained to match their skills,” Fillingim said. “For her first year in our department, we estimated Eden’s spend at around $8,000, with subsequent years of maintenance dropping off dramatically.”
Business news from Quad Citiesalong with its sister publication, Flagstaff Business News, is partnering with PPD and the Prescott Police Foundation to raise money for their equipment and other needs. Other local businesses also support Eden.
“We have a local pet supply store that is donating their food, another local business is donating their baths, and there is a retired zookeeper who has offered to groom them for free,” Fillingim said.
With the initial goal of raising $10,000, two fundraisers are planned in Prescott: Yoga for Eden on February 12 at the Founding Fathers Collective and Bowling for Eden on February 27 at the Plaza Bowl. Eden will attend both events to meet community members. The yoga fundraiser includes a silent auction, one hour of free yoga, a self-care gift bag, food and mimosas. The bowling event includes a raffle and silent auction, prizes, pizza and an Eden tote bag.
Calming victims, officers
Eden’s name was chosen to reflect her calling to service. She was named after DPS Officer Trooper Tyler Edenhofer, who was shot dead on duty during his last night of field training on July 25, 2018. He is the youngest fallen DPS soldier.
Eden primarily assists crime victims with forensic and other interviews, court testimony, and therapeutic sessions with counselors or physicians. “When we have a victim called to testify, Eden can remain at their feet during testimony to offer comfort at a stressful time,” Fillingim said. “She will be in testimony, not anywhere near the jury or staff. She is off-leash and trained to stay in place for more than two hours.”
In addition, Eden will offer comfort to PPD staff members in times of stress. “She’s used for playtime – if the SWAT team is called back from an incident, she’ll be there to play ball with them and help them decompress,” she explained.
“I was told, ‘Don’t be surprised if these 200-pound men are on the floor spooning with the dogs.’ I’m told that’s quite a sight.”
Eden’s skills also include working with children. “One of her duties is crawling, a non-intimidating pooch on her stomach,” she said. “She makes her way to a child and bonds with them as a gentle dog. It takes away a lot of the fear; she looks like a teddy bear. Eden just keeps getting cuter and cuter. I’m just so excited for the community to see them.”
And because she’ll be a “facility dog,” she’ll be allowed to roam the police station. ‘She can go to the sergeant’s office and spend an hour with him. She can hang out with the guys in the patrol briefing room when they gather for the first half hour of their shift and interact with them before they go into the field. There are two floors. She can navigate the stairwell. She even got a call to go to [Prescott] City Hall to see the City Administrators and Engineers.”
In addition, Eden is assigned flexible working hours at the shipping center located across the street. “Dispatchers are first responders; It’s a stressful job,” said Fillingim, who served as a dispatcher at PPD for five and a half years.
“There are different types of police dogs, such as biting dogs, mortician dogs, bomb dogs and drug dogs,” Fillingim said. “Biting dogs are trained extensively to assist law enforcement in apprehending criminals. Many people know these breeds as Belgian Malinois, Czech Shepherd and Dutch Shepherd for bite dogs, bomb and drug dogs are typically Labrador retrievers and cadaver dogs are typically bloodhounds.” Breeds chosen for emotional support/facility dogs can include Labrador Retriever, Golden Retriever or a “Doodle” like a Labradoodle, Bernedoodle or Goldendoodle like Eden. These breeds are known for their work ethic, temperament, and loyalty. The Doodle breeds are particularly valued for their gentle dispositions.
“The Prescott Police Department’s Victim Services Unit is only six years old,” Fillingim said. “Having a systems-based program embedded in law enforcement is a wonderful tool. This innovative program helps us fulfill our department’s vision to be a leader in our region in providing world-class public safety services while continuing to strive to exceed our standards and put the well-being of our citizens at the forefront of our daily lives practice.”
For tickets or more information about the bowling event, please contact QCBN/FBN Publicity Director Ann Herrington 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