SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Pet lovers experience the unconditional love and support that their dogs, cats, bird and more provide them every day. Now a group of public servants is getting those same things from a rescue dog.
In January, 911 dispatchers in Scottsdale adopted a two-year-old terrier mix named Poppy. Poppy lives at the dispatch center and her task is simple: help dispatchers relieve stress just by being cute.
Supervisor Catherine Salazar spearheaded the effort, even driving to Texas to pick Poppy up from a family that was moving out of the country and could not take Poppy along. She says the benefits of having animals in the workplace are evident.
"Happier employees make for fewer people calling out on sick days, lower turnover rates, so we thought if we can bring a little happiness to the place and encourage people to get up and away from their desks and take walks, and it actually leads to a healthier lifestyle for all of us," Salazar, a 19-year call center veteran, said.
Poppy has a crate, a food dish, a water dish, treats, a leash, and waste bags within the dispatch center. Employees can play with her, cuddle her, and take her out on walks if they are feeling stressed or overwhelmed.
Scottsdale PD refers to Poppy as a SMART dog, which stands for Stress Management and Relaxation for Telecommunicators. She is not a trained therapy dog, and she doesn't have any sort of official service dog designation, but Salazar says after a couple of months it's safe to say she's good at her "job."
"We actually had a dispatcher who had a pretty traumatic call, and the first thing she did when she hung up was found Poppy and took her outside and got comfort from Poppy," Salazar said. "She seems to know when people need comforting."
The dispatchers pitched in for Poppy and her accessories. No taxpayer money has been spent on her addition to the dispatcher team.