The Oscar Kilo Wellbeing and Trauma Support Dogs service, aims to build on local police wellbeing dog services, and make wellbeing dogs available to all forces who wish introduce a dog as part of their wellbeing provision.
What are Wellbeing and Trauma Dogs?
Police officers and staff do a demanding and sometimes dangerous job, and in many roles are frequently exposed to trauma. Over recent years, police forces around the country have recognised the value of dogs in helping officers and staff with their wellbeing.
When a dog is introduced to the workplace, the atmosphere immediately changes and people want to interact with the dog. During this time together, they share oxytocin, a hormone that engenders affection, trust and a sense of security. It helps naturally lower cortisone levels and in doing so reduces feelings of stress and anxiety.
These interactive sessions provide light relief from the rigors of the job and the dogs help get people talking, and create expressions of genuine feeling just by being friendly and non-judgemental.
Wellbeing dog handlers are also mental health first aiders or trained peer supporters who are ideally placed to listen, enable difficult conversations and provide sign-posting to support if required.
How Oscar Kilo became involved.
The project initially began with a handful of police forces reporting the difference their Wellbeing Dogs were making to their officers and staff. This led to the creation of the national OK9 Network which currently has representation from 30 UK Police Forces and Fire and Rescue Services across the country.
This network has allowed the sharing of best practice and it was clear that these dogs were having a huge impact on the people they were working with – so we wanted to find a way to make this more accessible to more forces.
We have developed the national network to to build on these local services, and provide national guidance making it easier for forces to introduce a dog as part of their wellbeing provision.
How does it work?
Forces who already have a Wellbeing Dog can apply to become a member of the National OK9 Wellbeing and Trauma Support Dog Network. The handlers of these dogs should be trained Peer Supporters or Mental Health First Aiders, but where this isn’t the case, we will offer specialised training through our Oscar Kilo Peer Support programme to support this.
After the force signs our Service Level Agreement and the dog passes our OK9 Suitability Assessment test, they can become part of this group and are available to for deployment nationally. This is all co-ordinated by the Oscar Kilo team linking with the Wellbeing Lead of the force.
This means that to support colleagues around the country in the event of a major incient – or to attend national events and work with our wellbeing outreach service (The Wellbeing Vans)
All dogs in the group are scrutinised by an Animal Welfare Scheme and have comprehensive risk assessments and insurance in place.
If you are interested in finding out more about OK9 Wellbeing and Trauma Support Dogs or want to get your force involved please email us.
Can I book a dog to visit my force?
The National Police Wellbeing Service do not hold their own wellbeing dogs.
The purpose of the Wellbeing and Trauma Support Dog Project is to assist forces to develop their own Wellbeing Dog scheme so they have the capability for the dog to support their people. While we will have a mutual aid capability we rely on forces joining the group and sharing resources when there is a pressing need. We are able to assist forces in getting their scheme up and running.
If you feel your force could benefit from a visit from an OK9 following a serious incident or at a large scale event please get in touch and we’ll try to help by co-ordinating via mutual aid.
Promoting your Wellbeing Dog
For forces who have a OK9 Wellbeing and Truama Support Dog, we have put together some helpful downloadable resources to help promote any visits your Wellbeing Dog will be making in force.
Meet our dogs
Find out all about the OK9 dogs and their handlers, and find out what makes them tick.
OK9 resources and essential information
This member page is password protected for use by Wellbeing and Trauma Support Dog handlers only. It contains digital forms, resources and up to date information on the project.