Kelowna RCMP Cst. Sean Craven and Insp. Robert Thorarinson each bond with one of the UBCO B.A.R.K. therapy dogs during a February 2018 drop-in session inside the Kelowna RCMP Detachment;

Therapy dogs helping Okanagan RCMP detachment

A new program at the Kelowna detachment has therapy dogs helping RCMP with stress

Dogs are an RCMP officer’s best friend.

Thanks to a new program at the Kelowna RCMP detachment, officers and staff at the Kelowna detachment are using therapy dogs to reduce stress.

Brent Mundle, the officer-in-charge of Kelowna’s Regional Detachment, formed an invaluable partnership with facilitators and volunteers of the innovative dog therapy program, known as BARK, to help with the overall wellness of all his employees.

“We’ve enthusiastically welcomed these trained therapy dogs into our very dynamic workplace, which is often prone to stressful situations, with employee health and wellness as our highest priority,” said Mundle. “Front line police work can be very stressful at times, in turn, those who support the front line of policing can, as a result, be faced with similar stressors. There is no doubt in my mind that other RCMP detachments, municipal police departments and emergency first responder agencies are watching us closely here in Kelowna.”

BARK is a dog therapy program run under the direction of Dr. John-Tyler Binfet at the University of British Columbia, Okanagan Campus. The program normally brings together university students with trained therapy dogs and their volunteer handlers in an effort to reduce stress, combat homesickness but is now being used on a trial basis within the Kelowna RCMP detachment to promote the overall well-being of all its categories of employees.

“Innovative research happens when folks connect dots that haven’t been previously connected and respond creatively to needs in the community,” stated Binfet. “Bringing UBC BARK dogs, who have proven successful in combating stress on campus, to the local RCMP station helps to support employee well-being, while strengthening our partnerships within our community.”

The results have been positive, according to at least one RCMP member

“Having personally taken advantage of the opportunity to spend some personal time with these stress reducing therapy dogs, I quickly realized the benefits of such an interaction,” said RCMP Cpl. Jesse O’Donaghey. “It’s not everyday that an officer can pet, get close to or even embrace a K9 inside a police detachment. Our police dogs are great partners, but their training has taken them down a different career path than therapy dogs.”

On average four therapy canines visit the Kelowna RCMP Detachment, accompanied by their volunteer dog handlers, for a nearly two hour drop-in session one day each week. Two weeks remain in the trial phase, at which time the overall effectiveness of the program will be assessed.

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A Kelowna RCMP officer walks the detachment hallways with a UBCO B.A.R.K. therapy dog;

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