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Labrador Sacked From Guide Dog Training For Being Too Naughty Gets New Job As A Therapy Dog

Labrador Sacked From Guide Dog Training For Being Too Naughty Gets New Job As A Therapy Dog

Sometimes, a wrong turn in your career path eventually leads you to your dream job.

That's exactly what happened to River, a five-year-old Labrador who was sacked from guide-dog training for being too naughty - and went on to become a therapy dog for vulnerable victims and suspects.

River's love of chasing squirrels prevented her from making the grade as a dog for the blind, but her kind nature meant she was quickly recruited by the Police as a therapy animal.

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River's kind and sweet nature makes her the perfect therapy animal (Credit: SWNS)
River's kind and sweet nature makes her the perfect therapy animal (Credit: SWNS)

In her new role, River will be aiding people who are young, vulnerable or suffering from mental health problems when they are brought into custody.

The kindly pooch will be a key member of a team working on a pilot project run by Maidstone Police Station in Kent.

Talking about the importance of therapy animals like River, Sergeant Ian Sutton said: "We are often dealing with people in crisis and although their behaviour has resulted in arrest, they could be suffering with depression, anxiety or mental illness.

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River's love of chasing squirrels meant she didn't make the grade as a guide dog (Credit: WikiCommons)
River's love of chasing squirrels meant she didn't make the grade as a guide dog (Credit: WikiCommons)

"Young people may find themselves in custody too and in some cases they are scared and daunted by the experience, whilst others may have difficulty in communicating.

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"Being detained can exacerbate these issues and we are committed to ensuring that police custody is a safe and supportive environment for both police, staff and detainees.

"We are always looking for new or innovative ways to achieve this."

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River has a CV packed with relevant experience. She was originally accredited as a therapy dog by the Pets as Therapy organisation back in 2016, and went on to support children in a special educational needs school.

She passed her assessment by Kent Police's dog unit trainers with flying colours, and is loving the new challenge of working in a busy police station.

"River has joined the team to offer emotional support to people who are experiencing difficulties," explained Sgt Sutton. "She provides a therapeutic benefit to those in crisis and helps to counter some of the negative behaviour we sometimes experience in custody.

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"Since beginning work with us she has had a notable positive impact on those she has spent time and the atmosphere in custody improves when she is on shift. This allows staff and officers to use their time more effectively rather than diffusing situations."

Many guide dogs in training go on to become therapy animals, working in schools or police stations (Credit: Flickr)
Many guide dogs in training go on to become therapy animals, working in schools or police stations (Credit: Flickr)

The career-change canine can now be found working hard in custody - and chasing squirrels at the weekend.

Featured Image Credit: SWNS

Topics: Life News, Life, Dogs

Mary-Jane Wiltsher

Mary-Jane Wiltsher is a freelance lifestyle and culture journalist. Elsewhere she writes for Stylist, Euronews, PHOENIX and What We Seee.