PAW & ORDER

Central Florida Health News|March 2020

PAW & ORDER
Winter Haven Police Department Therapy Dog Winning Hearts
PAUL CATALA

THE WINTER HAVEN POLICE DEPARTMENT wants everyone to know their Miranda rights. In this particular case, those rights include the right to feel better, release anxiety, run fingers through softfur and maybe even throw a ball.

Miranda is one of the newest members of the Winter Haven Police Department to walk on four legs. She’s an almost 2-year-old yellow Labrador retriever who has been “hired” into the approximately 90-member police force as its first therapy dog.

Whatever the situation, Miranda is ready to assist. With a gentle nudge, a chance for a petting or just a sympathetic stare of compassion that doesn’t discriminate, she’s there to calm and quell.

Across the United States, law enforcement agencies have been using therapy dogs on their forces not only to apprehend criminals, find missing people or sniff and seek out drugs or explosives, but also to calm tense situations, alleviate anxiety, provide compassion to crime victims and help the department connect with the community.

Miranda is the first therapy dog employed by a law enforcement agency in Polk County, said her handler WHPD Detective Elyse Chapnick. Miranda joins five K-9 patrol dogs already on the force and was donated to the police department by Kathy Leggett, owner of Mediation and Counseling Consultants in Winter Haven. Miranda has been trained and certified as a therapy dog.

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March 2020