Hingham police welcomed their first comfort dog, Opry, to the force Friday, the department wrote in a Facebook post.
Opry is a rescue dog from Texas, and was donated by PAWS New England, an organization that rescues, rehabilitates, and finds new homes for animals.
School Resource Officer Tom Ford and Opry have been training together for nine months. Opry will be working with Officer Ford to comfort, reduce stress, and promote wellness in the community.
The effectiveness of comfort dogs and therapy dogs is backed by recent research.
Research published by the University of Saskatchewan Wednesday found that ER patients reported less pain when they were visited by a therapy dog as opposed to those who weren’t.
“Therapy dogs themselves … they’re just really friendly, family pets that are so excited to visit with people and in places where you don’t typically have a pet,” Dr. Colleen Dell, a professor at the University of Saskatchewan and one of the study authors, said in an interview with NPR. “And just going into the emergency department was a natural.”
Furthermore, Johns Hopkins says just petting a dog lowers cortisol levels, the primary stress hormone. Social interaction between people and their dogs can increase levels of oxytocin.
The Hingham Police ask residents to keep an eye out for Opry in areas such as the senior center, assisted living facilities, schools, and other sites.
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