SURREY Police Service (SPS) has welcomed an accredited canine whose primary job will be supporting policing employees in the workplace.
Ragnar comes as a fully trained Occupational Stress Intervention Dog (OSID) from the Operation Stress Service Dog division of BC Guide Dogs, VICD (Vancouver Island Compassion Dogs) Service Dogs. OSIDs are specially trained to help individuals deal with trauma, emotional distress, anxiety, and work stressors.
Ragnar, a two-year old yellow Labrador, became SPS’s newest ‘recruit’ on May 10, and like all new Surrey Police Service staff, he and his SPS handler, Sgt. Kaleigh Paddon embarked on a comprehensive training program (this one with VICD service dogs instructors) upon arrival.
Today, he has successfully completed all his training and is now qualified to be deployed as an SPS OSID dog. Paddon from the SPS Wellness Unit will be Ragnar’s primary caretaker, both on duty, and off duty.
Ragnar and his handler will attend critical incident callouts and post incident debriefings that have impacted sworn and civilian employees. He will also attend meetings, training and events geared toward promoting SPS mental health services and resources for employees.
Police officers are required to respond to critical and potentially traumatic incidents on a daily basis, and civilian police support workers are also regularly impacted by these same incidents. Repeated exposure to traumatic incidents can lead to long-lasting negative impacts on the employee and, subsequently, the organization and community.
The SPS Wellness Unit will use Ragnar’s specialized training to mitigate the damaging effects of these exposures and experiences.
This OSI dog is being provided to SPS by VICD Service Dogs, a division of BC Guide Dogs, with support from Wounded Warriors Canada. VICD is a division of BC and Alberta Guide Dog and specializes in providing facility dogs that are trained specifically for environments with persons suffering from OSI’s and trauma.
This innovative and important program for SPS could not have been facilitated without the generous support and donation from Wounded Warriors Canada. The investment by Wounded Warriors Canada goes beyond financial sponsorship; it involves partnering with SPS to support collaborative efforts to advance the health and wellness of SPS staff and families.
“We are grateful to Wounded Warriors Canada and B.C Guide Dogs for their invaluable assistance in allowing SPS to launch this innovative and tremendously important program,” says SPS Chief Constable Norm Lipinski.
“A cornerstone of Surrey Police Service is our commitment to employee wellness and we are proud to be able to offer this dedicated mental health support to all of our employees.”