POLICE officers can now spend time with wellbeing dogs to help them relax.

Dorset Police Federation is working with Devon and Cornwall Police Federation to offer officers the chance to spend time with some four-legged friends to help them if they are feeling low, have attended a difficult job or are suffering from stress or trauma.

The initiative was launched on Monday and currently has two dogs helping officers - Hogan the Hungarian Wirehaired Vizsla and Cocker Spaniel Darcy.

Sandra Rigby, wellbeing lead for Dorset Police Federation and former veterinary nurse, heard about the initiative and volunteered her dog Hogan for the job.

She said: "Hogan has been good for my mental health so I thought, why not let him help others too?

"Dogs are non-judgemental and have a knack of picking up on when people aren't feeling great. They give you undivided attention and encourage you to open up a little bit when you might be closed off and no want to engage.

"Being with a dog brings down the blood pressure and the cortisol levels in the body which allows people to relax. All the dog wants is some cuddles and attention and the throw of a ball and they're quite happy."

Police officers can now make an appointment to visit Hogan or Darcy, who are both part of a national police wellbeing dog service.

Darcy is owned by Devon and Cornwall Police officer Cathy Veale and helped officers at the recent G7 Summit, many of whom were away from home.

Sandra, who is based in Weymouth, said: "If [an officer] makes an appointment, either myself or Cathy will come along with the dog, and it can either be one-to-one of as a group.

"With Hogan, I'm quite happy to go on a walk or a run or a swim in the sea to get people to relax."

Sandra added: "People’s faces light up when a dog is in the room – you’ll talk a bit about the dog and then you move onto other things like what’s stressing them out that day or how’s things at work, how’s things at home. Then we can further signpost people to other support mechanisms."


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