RINGGOLD _ Catoosa County Sheriff Gary Sisk announced the addition of Bonnie, a therapy K-9 that began her tour of duty helping sworn and civilian employees manage the daily challenges of law enforcement that include stress and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
“Our deputies and civilian staff are constantly being called on to help solve emotionally charged and at times very difficult human problems, and that can take a toll on our own wellbeing,” said Sheriff Sisk. “By spending just a few minutes with Bonnie, we can feel the stress and anxiety melt away by simply petting and playing with her.”
Bonnie is a one-year-old Golden Retriever mixed-breed whose service is made possible through a partnership with the Catoosa County Sheriff’s Office, Good Citizen K-9 and McKamey Animal Center.
“Bonnie was a stray roaming the streets of Chattanooga that was picked up by one of our officers,” said McKamey Animal Center Advancement Manager Lauren Mann. “Good Citizen K-9, which fosters animals for us, recognized her potential for being a therapy dog and began working with her and the Catoosa County Sheriff’s Office for this great partnership.”
As a therapy K-9, Bonnie can use her friendly and loving personality to help her human partners when she senses they are under stress.
“Dogs like Bonnie understand human body language by looking at things such as our facial expressions, the way we move our arms, and hearing the tone of our voice,” said Good Citizen K-9 founder Damon McCook. “She is great at recognizing human behavior patterns that naturally motivate her to approach with a wagging tail, big wet kisses and an appreciation for petting. And it’s that interaction that benefits our own emotional wellbeing.”
Once a stray, Bonnie has a new home with plenty of roaming space both inside and outside the Sheriff’s Office facility. She immediately became comfortable with her indoor kennel. While helping with the emotional wellbeing of employees, Bonnie is not trained to handle more traditional law enforcement duties such as searches and manhunts, with one notable exception.
“We will introduce Bonnie to children who are being interviewed here at the office, with the hope that she can ease their anxiety that can come with an investigation,” Sheriff Sisk said. “Bonnie has already become one of our best friends, and her service to us will enhance the service that we provide to our community every day.”