Our opinion: A canine for support is a bill we can all get behind

Published 5:23 pm Friday, March 8, 2024

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Earlier this week, Rep. Patricia Mueller presented bill HF 4215 to the House Public Safety and Finance Committee, which if passed would provide funding to law enforcement agencies and first responders across the state that would allow them to add a therapy dog.

We invite you to read the story on the front page of the Austin Daily Herald for more on the bill and its impacts, but in short the trained dog would provide therapy services not just for these agencies and their employees who have had to respond to traumatic situations, but also for victims, such as children, at these same events.

Mueller, who is authoring the bill, appeared with Detective Adam Sack of the Woodbury Police Department, and his canine partner Otis, to further emphasize the importance of the bill.

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To put it succinctly, this bi-partisan bill is a slam dunk for the legislature and would go a long way to providing much needed support for law enforcement and first responders.

While we may appreciate their services in our time of need, it’s sometimes taken for granted the mental rigors and stresses these people undergo on our behalf when responding to things such as medical situations, criminal situations or anything that may be considered stressful and traumatic.

The bill itself would be considered supplemental funding and comes at a time of the state’s $3.6 billion surplus. A plus for this year, but future spending will be under considerable strain as monetary pressures are put on the surplus. It’s not the honeypot it’s been in previous years.

Still, this money is worth allocating to make sure that those people who run to things we ourselves would run away from are further supported.

As Mueller said, a dog is simply a dog, trained to be there when it’s needed the most to help foster a calming environment. It’s a simple approach to often complex issues surrounding emergency situations.

But more than that, in a world where legislatures are split by ideologies alone, this can be a building block; a bill that all people can support to simply help other people, but victims and first responders.

There are certainly other things that need to be considered this legislative session and while funding for a dog might not seem like a priority for all, we believe this is money that would be well spent, but more than that needs to be spent.

Our first responders need to be supported in a day and age when criticisms are leveled upon law enforcement and strains push against first responders. Allowing a dog to be there in people’s time seems like a small price to pay.