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Manheim Township Police get an emotional recharge thanks to animal-assisted therapy sessions

The Lancaster County police department hosted volunteers and therapy animals from Keystone Pet-Enhanced Therapy Services this week.
Credit: Manheim Township Police Department

LANCASTER COUNTY, Pa. — A Lancaster County police department was visited this week by a pet-enhanced therapy service provider in an effort to protect its officers' mental health and well-being.

The Manheim Township Police Department hosted volunteers and therapy animals Keystone Pet-Enhanced Therapy Services on Tuesday and Wednesday, the department said in a press release.

"Recognizing the difficulties all of us experienced in 2020 from the COVID-19 pandemic and civil and political unrest, the Manheim Township Police Department wished to protect the mental health and well-being of its personnel," the department said. "Knowing that positive wellness is crucial for a police department to be fully effective, KPETS was invited to the police station to provide therapy visits."

KPETS volunteers brought Becky the cat and Brody the dog to visit officers on Tuesday, while therapy dogs Kody and Goldie visited on Wednesday.

"Registered KPETS volunteers and their companion animals promote well-being and offer encouragement in our communities by sharing the power and benefits of human-animal interactions," the department said. "Serving local communities in health-related facilities, social agencies, special-needs programs, schools, libraries, retirement communities and hospices, KPETS teams readily visit wherever the human/animal connection may be beneficial."

Established in 2003, KPETS now has more than 400 volunteer teams that provide more than 10,000 hours of animal-assisted therapy to more than 300 facilities each year.

KPETS' services are free of charge.

“We reached out to KPETS to see if they could visit and help lift our spirits, and they quickly accepted,” said Manheim Township Police Chief Thomas Rudzinski.  “This was a great opportunity for us. Pets have a way of working into your heart, and our interactions with these animals absolutely gave our employees a much needed boost.”