The Peterborough Police Service is thrilled to announce it has acquired its first Accredited Facility Dog to work with its Victim Services Unit as well as the Peer Support Team for its members.
Pixie, a three-and-a-half year old female Labrador Cross, received her accreditation through Assistance Dog International (ADI). The dog was purpose-bred to become a facility dog by National Service Dogs and has undergone two-and-a-half years of training, assessment and testing.
In late January 2020 Pixie and her primary handler, Victim Services Coordinator Alice Czitrom and secondary handler Detective Sergeant Josh McGrath, attended training together at National Service Dogs in Cambridge, Ontario.
“We are ecstatic to welcome Pixie to our Service and have her become an integral part of the services we provide to victims. There are so many positive reasons to use a facility dog when meeting and speaking with victims of crime and tragic circumstances,” says Ms. Czitrom.
“Our Facility Dog will also provide a new approach to Peer Support for our members, both civilian and uniform, as we continue to strive towards a healthier and more supportive work environment in combating occupational stress on the job.
Ms. Czitrom says research shows that dogs can have a positive neurochemical effect on people affected by stress and trauma.
“Under stress our bodies produce many chemicals, one of them being cortisol, which can impede a person’s communication, cognition and memory. Merely looking at a dog let alone interacting with one can release the hormone oxytocin in the brain making people feel more comforted, connected to others and cared for,” she explains.
“A facility dog such as our dog, who has a calm, stable and soothing nature, will help set the right tone at the beginning of our meetings with victims, whether that is with a child or adult. Her very presence in a room could help people who may struggle to talk, reduce negative stress and anxiety, help normalize traumatic situations and draw out healthy emotions.”
Pixie is also trained to:
- Support victims (children and adults) during police statements
- Provide crisis intervention
- Court accompaniment and meetings with Crown Attorneys
- Large-scale disaster/crime response
- Peer support for officers and civilians
“Pixie is a most wonderful addition to our team and to the services we provide,” says Peterborough Police Chief Scott Gilbert.”
“Our mandate as a police service is not only crime prevention and law enforcement but also ensuring we provide the right supports in the right manner to victims of crime and traumatic events. She will enhance the already excellent service provided by our victim assistance team.”
Chief Gilbert officially presented Pixie with her K9 police badge at a special media conference held February 18, 2020.
Pixie was generously provided by National Service Dogs in Cambridge, Ontario, who are considered leaders in Canada in providing ADI standardized training for Service dogs.
Community partners including Fred and Kelly Comrie and Pet Value on Lansdowne Street West have stepped up to ensure Pixie is well cared for during her career and that costs remain low.
When not at work Pixie will live with her primary handler, Ms. Czitrom.
Pixie’s first day on the job was Thursday January 30, 2020 where she toured the station meeting sworn and civilian members.