Retired Police Dog Baloo doing the rounds to improve mental health
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As part of Mental Health Awareness Week, we wanted to tell you about the work retired Police Dog Baloo is doing around welfare and kindness.
The three-legged Belgian Malinois has been a volunteer Welfare Dog for Essex Police since January 2019 and has been visiting our officers and staff to help create positive working environments.
The work she does within the force – be it at stations, in our Control Room and in many our other buildings – helps boosts morale while making her feel valued following her sudden retirement.
In 2018 she had to prematurely end her career as a Police Dog with Essex Police after sustaining life changing injuries.
Baloo and her handler, PC Ross Ashcroft, were responding to an incident involving a stolen car when Baloo was sadly struck by a vehicle. She was left with a broken pelvis and a badly broken leg which eventually had to be amputated meaning she could no longer serve on the front line.
She’s now happy at home with her handler, Mandy Chapman. The pair spend their time volunteering and Mandy takes Baloo around our buildings and even visits schools.
Former Met Police Dog handler, Mandy said: “I wanted to take Baloo in to see the Essex Police force control room operators because they were on the line when they heard the incident involving her.
“I wanted to show them that Baloo is enjoying life and the visit was so well received that she became a volunteer for Essex Police as the force’s Welfare Dog.
“Baloo has visited teams after traumatic events and prompted conversations about coping and processing these situations. To see a powerful dog deal with such trauma and still be so happy while embracing new challenges is proving inspirational.
“Baloo loves volunteering and loves to see people. She spreads smiles and creates happy working environment and this can only benefit policing and the community.”
Baloo’s volunteer visits have been put on hold following lockdown but she continues to spread her happiness through some specially designed artwork commissioned by Essex Police. The force commission artist Tom Knight, a former Essex Police employee, to create colouring sheets and storyboards which are available for parents, carers and children to download and enjoy.
Children can create their own Baloo story by drawing on the blank storyboard and we are asking them to send their entries in to be in with the chance of winning a special Baloo-themed surprise. Please ensure all finished storyboards are sent in to us by Monday 1 June 2020.
Full details of how to download the story board and enter the competition can be found here.
Don’t forget to keep putting your pictures of Baloo up in you windows to support those working to keeping you safe both in the NHS and Essex Police.