Eden soon will be comforting victims of crime.
Eden soon will be comforting victims of crime.
This 8-month-old Goldendoodle has reported for official duty in the Prescott Police Department (PPD) Victim Services Unit and assumed her role as emotional support/facility dog, a job for which she is fully certified.
Born May 13, 2021, Eden was given to PPD by the Arizona Department of Public Safety.
Prescott Police Chief Amy Bonney, a native of Prescott who took her post in June 2021, received the call with the offer.
“Getting an emotional support dog in our victim services unit was something we have been looking forward to for quite some time, but other needs always came up,” she said. “The opportunity offered to us through the Arizona Department of Public Safety was simply one we couldn’t turn down. We are so pleased to be able to offer this service to our community and especially victims of crime. We know that victims can heal more quickly and move forward when they are 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 Advocate Amy Fillingim, who has been with PPD since 2010, explained how the gift came about: “They had an emotional support dog they had already purchased and had paid for the dog and the lifetime training. They actually had two dogs, a male and a female, brother and sister. They said, ‘We would like to give you first dibs,’ so we picked the female.”
An ever-increasing body of scientific research shows that regular interaction with gentle, caring, supportive and affectionate emotional support dogs promotes positive mental, emotional and physical benefits and helps reduce stress levels, manage depression and foster an overall holistic sense of well-being.
The gift from DPS was an auspicious surprise, as there had been complications with a federal grant that might have funded a support animal for PPD. “In 2020, when we were ready to renew our grant, COVID hit and we were not allowed to make any additions or changes to the grant as it stood,” 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 pursuing 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 bring a canine into the victim program for everyone.”
Supporting a Support Dog
Although the cost of the animal and her training had been covered by DPS, there were unforeseen expenses that were not budgeted for. “We wondered, ‘How are we going to fund this canine?’” Fillingim recalled. “Other expenses include bedding, kennel, food, toys, harness, vest and veterinary services, including vaccinations and spay – everything that goes into having a dog.”
She says these types of dogs can range in cost from $10,000 to $15,000, which includes lifetime training. “Eden’s handlers in the department are also trained in accordance with her skill set,” Fillingim said. “For her first year with our department, we estimated Eden’s expenses to be around $8,000, with subsequent years falling dramatically for maintenance.”
Quad Cities Business News, along with its sister publication, Flagstaff Business News, is teaming up with PPD and the Prescott Police Foundation to raise money to pay for her equipment and other needs. Other local businesses are supporting Eden, as well.
“We have a local pet supply business that is donating her food, another local business is donating her baths and there is a retired pet groomer that has offered to groom her at no charge,” Fillingim said.
With an initial goal of raising $10,000, two fundraising events are scheduled in Prescott: Yoga for Eden, Feb. 12 at Founding Fathers Collective, and Bowling for Eden, Feb. 27, at 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 self-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 officer Trooper 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 fallen DPS trooper.
Eden will primarily assist victims of crime during forensic and other interviews, court testimony and therapeutic sessions with counselors or physicians. “If we have a victim who is called to testify, Eden can stay at their feet during testimony, to provide comfort during a stressful time,” Fillingim said. “She will be in the testimony box, not near the jury or staff. She is not on leash and is trained to remain in place for upwards of two hours.”
In addition, Eden will provide comfort to members of the PPD staff in high-stress situations. “She’ll be used for playtime – when the SWAT team is called back from an incident, she will be present to play ball with them, to help them decompress,” she explained.
“I’ve been told, ‘Don’t be surprised when these 200-pound men are laying on the ground spooning with the dogs.’ I’m told that’s quite a sight.”
Eden’s skill set also includes working with children. “One of her tasks is to crawl, a not-intimidating, puppy crawl on her stomach,” she said. “She makes her way to a child and makes a bond with them as a gentle dog. It takes down a lot of the fear; she looks like a teddy bear. Eden keeps getting cuter and cuter. I’m just so excited for the community to see her.”
And, because she will be a “facility” dog, she will be allowed to roam the police station. “She may wander into the sergeant’s office and spend an hour with him. She may hang out with the guys in the patrol briefing room as they gather for the first half-hour of their shift, interacting with them before then go out into the field. There are two floors. She can navigate the stairwell. She has even gotten a call to go over to [Prescott] City Hall to see the city managers and engineers.”
In addition, Eden will have dedicated flexible time in the dispatch center, which is across the street. “Dispatchers, they are first responders; it’s a stressful job,” said Fillingim, who served as a dispatcher in PPD for five-and-a-half years.
“There are several different types of police dogs, such as bite dogs, cadaver dogs, bomb dogs and drug dogs,” Fillingim said. “Bite dogs are trained extensively to aid law enforcement in the apprehension of criminals. Many people know these breeds to be Belgian Malinois, Czech shepherd and Dutch shepherd for bite dogs, bomb and drug dogs are typically Labrador retrievers and cadaver dogs are usually bloodhounds.” Breeds chosen for emotional support/facility dogs can be Labrador retrievers, golden retrievers, or a “doodle,” such as 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 Victim Services Unit for Prescott Police Department is only six years old,” said Fillingim. “Having a system-based program embedded in law enforcement is a wonderful tool. This innovative program helps us meet our department’s vision of being a leader in our region in providing superior public safety services, while continuing to strive to reach above our standards and putting our citizens’ best interests at the forefront of our daily practice.”
For tickets or more information about the bowling event, call QCBN/FBN Advertising Manager Ann Herrington, 928-420-4407. For more information about the yoga event, contact Breathe Play Love Yoga at 605-940-1607. QCBN
By Betsey Bruner, BN