HOBART (NBC 26) — The Hobart-Lawrence Police Department has a new teammate. His name is Arlo, and he's the department's first therapy dog.
"He's just a very good tool and resource to help with anxiety, de-escalate situations, and he's a puppy, so he makes everybody happy," Hobart-Lawrence Police Department Officer Sarah Manning said.
Manning is Arlo's handler, who said the department first talked about getting a therapy dog back in February after they felt there was a need for one in the community.
"Say we have a sexual assault victim or a domestic violence victim, or say there's a family in crisis and maybe there's a little kid or someone that needs comfort," Manning said. "A really good part of his job is going to be just being there for comfort."
Manning said the department picked up the dog on Easter Sunday from Blueberry Cottage Labradoodles in Osseo. Arlo is an Australian Labradoodle, who was picked because the breed is "easy to train" and "friendly."
Currently, Arlo is less than 10 weeks old, and Manning said though he's tiny now, he'll be about 45-50 pounds once he's fully grown and the "perfect size for cuddles."
There has been a rise in police departments using therapy dogs to ease anxiety, especially in children.
Katie Markowski, a child life specialist with UW-Health Kids in Madison, said they too are starting to use dogs more as a form of therapy because they have the same benefits of helping children feel comfortable in stress.
"Dogs are friendly, and in an environment when kids are seeing humans come into their room that they haven't met before, a dog is not threatening," Markowski said. "It's friendly, and it wants to visit with them and be pet and show them their cool little tricks and start to build that relationship that feels really safe and comfortable."
Markowski said their hospital recently added two facility dogs to their team. These dogs, like therapy dogs, help provide comfort for patients undergoing surgeries, treatments and care. She said she's noticed people in stressful situations respond better to dogs.
Manning added that the response to Arlo from the community, so far, has already been a lot of love saying the community even came together "with excitement" last week to vote on a name for the department's new therapy dog, with Arlo gaining the majority of votes.
Arlo will go through basic obedience, good citizenship and therapy training before he will officially start working. Manning said though Arlo's not officially working yet, he's already out in the community.
"Any sort of reason where we can bring him into a room, we can bring him into a home and he can de-escalate a situation and make somebody feel better is the main goal we have," Manning said.
Arlo is expected to start working next spring or summer.