By Julia Duvall
Western Carolina College Police Division will quickly add a brand new “officer” to their drive.
A four-legged one.
“In 2020, I obtained a grant with the Nice Smokies Well being Basis to have a canine skilled as a remedy canine for home violence assist for the Middle for Home Peace,” mentioned Cyndy Caravelis, professor in WCU’s criminology and legal justice division. “When somebody is a sufferer, it’s an extremely hectic course of and there’s a potential for trauma. Plenty of analysis has been finished all around the nation to show that having an animal remedy helps calm the sufferer and enhance their total expertise.”
Caravelis’ canine Atlas was then skilled as a remedy canine.
“We had nice success with Atlas on the Middle for Home Peace and on the Adults Working and Advocating for Youngsters’ Empowerment Advocacy Middle,” Caravelis mentioned. “I additionally use Atlas as an schooling piece within the classroom. Having animals makes these troublesome conversations simpler to have.”
Caravelis then attended a social work convention and in a single session discovered about police departments having a remedy canine on workers and the advantages for not solely neighborhood members, however the division itself.
Upon her return, Caravelis pitched the concept to Steve Lillard, WCU’s chief of police.
“After having discussions with the Police Group Advisory Committee and researching this sort of program, I really feel that having a remedy canine as a part of our operations will enable college students to really feel extra comfy when talking with officers after a vital incident has occurred,” Lillard mentioned. . “I additionally really feel that our outreach efforts will probably be enhanced and the canine will enable for extra alternatives for optimistic interactions throughout particular occasions and applications.”
Tammy Pavey, WCU police sergeant, simply occurred to have a brand new chocolate lab pet named Sasha with a giant character and the suitable disposition for the job.
“As soon as Tammy introduced in Sasha, it was clear she can be an ideal remedy canine,” Caravelis mentioned.
For the primary 9 months, Sasha will work on socialization and publicity to crowds, autos, clapping and different sounds and sights she may even see on campus.
As soon as coaching is full, Sasha will obtain a nationwide remedy canine certification with full credentials and will probably be out there to offer consolation for college kids going through troublesome conditions similar to reporting assault, going to courtroom or different conditions the place a remedy canine might make a scenario much less tense.
“She will get so excited to placed on her vest and are available to campus for coaching,” Pavey mentioned. “The one factor that actually excited me early on was once I took her to Dr. Caravelis’ room for the primary time and he or she simply pranced down the hallway and beloved all the eye she was getting.”
The main focus for the police division has been to construct belief with the campus neighborhood and work together in a manner that’s optimistic.
“When this concept happened, we have been working the ball video games and strolling across the tailgating space petting the canines and interacting with their house owners, so now that I can share my canine with our college students in a optimistic manner, it is extremely rewarding,” Pavey mentioned. “It’s so nice to see the optimistic interactions she is already having round campus.”
Not solely will this profit the scholars, however it would even be an ideal asset for campus law enforcement officials as nicely.
“When college students expertise trauma or victimization, what a present to have the ability to give them this soft-landing house and likewise as a lift for our officers,” Caravelis mentioned.