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New Saanich police service dog brings 'calmness' and 'joy'


The newest member of the Saanich Police Department is already making a big impression after just a few days on the job.

Beacon, a two-year-old black lab, is the police department's new operational stress injury dog.

His swearing-in was sped up after a dramatic bank shootout left six police officers injured in a hail of bullets in Saanich, B.C., in June.

Beacon, an operational stress injury dog, is shown. (CTV News)Five officers with the Saanich Police Department remain off duty since the attack, including three who are recovering from psychological injuries.

Many others still at work suffered invisible wounds, and officers say Beacon has an immediate affect on people he meets.

"He just kind of brings a cloud of calmness when you see him and you get a few minutes of joy with him," said Saanich police Sgt. Corey Volk.

Not only does Beacon increase morale and reduce tension, but he can help victims of crimes, like sexual assault, when they go through traumatic interviews.

"[He helps with] sensitive parts of investigations where victims can feel high levels of anxiety and stress," said Saanich police Chief Dean Duthie.

Beacon, an operational stress injury dog, is shown. (CTV News)Beacon was donated to the Saanich Police Department by Wounded Warriors Canada, which provides mental health services for veterans and first responders.

He's the first canine of his kind at a Vancouver Island police department, and only the second in all of B.C.

"I'm sure we're going to have lots of departments saying, 'Can we have a Beacon?'" said Phillip Ralph with Wounded Warriors Canada.

Beacon was bred by Vancouver Island Compassion Dogs, which trained him to sense anxiety and provide comfort.

He even knows specific moves, like cuddling up to the lap of people to reduce stress.

"So those tasks are what separate Beacon from an emotional support or therapy dog," said Mike Anon with Vancouver Island Compassion Dogs.

Beacon goes home with his primary handler, Lynne George, every night.

George is a civilian member of the police department and says as soon as Beacon comes home and takes his work jacket off, he becomes a different dog.

"A regular dog," she said. "He barks, plays, so he's got a good work-life balance." Top Stories

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