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Therapy dog for first responders coming permanently to Grand Rapids

A group of 30 Labradoodles have been dispatched across the country as part of a program supported by FirstNet, a high-speed internet service for first responders built by AT&T
Animal Therapy Dog GRPD AMR FirstNet
Posted at 4:41 PM, Jun 03, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-04 10:10:37-04

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — A new therapy dog program is sending out 30 Labradoodles to cities across the country to provide animal-assisted therapy to first responders. One of those dogs will be permanently stationed in Grand Rapids.

The program, called Rog the Dog, is part of a health and wellness campaign launched by FirstNet— a high-speed internet service meant for first responders, built by AT&T.

"We've actually been talking for a while, you know, about having a dog here at the department, and what other tools can we utilize to really help our employees,” Sgt Dan Adams, of the Grand Rapids Police Department, said Thursday.

A female Labradoodle named Hope will be stationed permanently at an AMR (American Medical Response) location in Grand Rapids.

“She's just shy of a year-and-a-half old now," said Dusty Vandermeer, an operations supervisor with AMR, and the guy who will be working with Hope directly.

"I don't think she has a mean bone in her body.”

She comes to work with Vandermeer every day and stays at AMR through the night. She has recently received her therapy dog certification.

“There's a lot of different opportunities... after critical incidents, man-made disasters, natural disasters," Sgt Adams said Thursday.

"We'll quite often hold debriefs, so that people can share their experiences... vent their feelings, you know, talk about, really process what's been going on.”

Both organizations are excited for what Hope will bring to first responders throughout West Michigan.

Sgt Adams saying, “it would be great to hope we never have to see her in action, but unfortunately... I'm sure that time will come and we'll definitely be reaching out to FirstNet and AMR for that.”