Independence Police add a therapy dog to the ranks

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Independence, MO - The Independence Police Department is introducing Josie, a two-year-old golden retriever/border collie mix, as their first ever certified therapy dog. 

The dog, donated by the nonprofit K9s For Freedom & Independence of Texas, is aimed at improving the psychological well-being of the employees at the police department, as well as the public.

"It just helps because the endorphins that are set off by just by petting a dog because you're in a stressful situation helps you to release," says Janeen Baggette, CEO and founder of the nonprofit. 

Josie will work with the department's peer support program, put in place to come alongside department employees with confidential, reassuring, emotional, and tangible support, explains Chaplin and former detective,Virgil Garner.

Josie's partner is Sargent Shull, who's the supervisor of 10 school resource officers, so Josie will be visiting the schools as well. 

In high stress events, Josie can help calm nerves during police interviews.

"You’ve got a higher percentage of getting better and more detailed information with a dog in the room because it distracts the person from actually thinking about, 'I’m talking to a detective,'" Baggette said.

Josie isn't the only K9 to join the Police Department.

Sometime around June, K9s for Freedom & Independence will also pair a service dog to former IPD Officer Tom Wagstaff, who was disabled nearly two years ago after being shot in the line of duty.

Josie was donated to the Independence Police Department at no cost to the city. All her needs will be provided for through the Truman Heartland Community Foundation.