IUPD got its first therapy dog to assist first responders and relieve stress after traumatic events.
Her name is Honey, and she is a Plott Hound that will be two years old in January. She completed eight weeks of training at Paws & Stripes College in Florida. The dog obedience program selects jail inmates to pair with shelter dogs and train them in voice commands and hand signals. Honey graduated September 15th, then came to IUPD.
Hannah Skibba, public information officer for IU Public Safety and Honey’s handler, said IUPD is always looking for ways to support students and improve officer health and wellness.
“When people see her, they sometimes forget that they are talking to a police officer and that helps break down the barrier that might be up,” Skibba said. “All of a sudden we are talking and building a connection because of Honey and it's an amazing thing to watch.”
Skibba said the police department owns Honey, but she goes home with Skibba every night because she is her primary caretaker.
“At home the harness comes off and she is allowed to be a normal dog,” Skibba said. “She is very loving and by the time we get home at the end of the night she is exhausted from meeting everyone all day.”
Brad Seifers, IUPD Deputy Superintendent, said Honey boosts morale among officers and students alike in an email to the Indiana Daily Student.
“While we all see the impact Honey has had on the students she has come into contact with, there is another aspect of her service,” Seifers said in the email. “She has had a significant impact on morale and officer wellness inside the police department. Staff members look forward to her coming to work each day so they can receive a few minutes of the therapy she is so good at providing.”
Augustine Bradley, IU student and IUPD cadet, said although he has only seen Honey in passing, he thinks she is extremely useful when going on calls and having around the department.
“I have been working in dispatch a lot recently and just hearing all the calls that she could go out on it’s a great thing,” Bradley said. “For the officers as well she’s helpful when it comes to unwinding.”