BOISE, Idaho — The Boise Police Department brought in their first wellness K-9, Clover to offer officers mental health support last winter. Now, they are expanding their four-legged team.
BPD brought on a special recruit Clover last October, but according to her handler, past abuses lingered, so the team decided to keep her home. Now, BPD added Cruz to their K-9 wellness team.
“The one way I would describe Cruz is no matter what happens the day before, it’s like you hit the reset button,” Handler and BPD officer Harrison Maalouf said. “We can have a 15-hour day and when you come in the next morning Cruz is ready to go no matter what.”
“We felt like after the 6-month mark it was a good opportunity to let her go take care of her own wellness essentially. It actually, played into our program pretty well because it showed that you got to take time to take care of yourself before you can take care of other people,” he said.
“When we knew we were going to start phasing Clover out to have more time at home," Maalouf said. "There were so many benefits of having a dog around that we wanted to have one for sure.”
Maalouf, the dog’s handler, connected with “Take Me Home” dog rescuein Eagle, where he found Cruz — the one-and-a-half-year-old lab mix, that was in a hoarding situation in Utah
“They felt like he would be a great fit for the program, so it kind of went from there,” he said.
Now, he provides mental health support for officers who face long hours and the stress of being in law enforcement.
“The career has gotten harder and harder just based on the national narratives,” Maalouf said. “We’re having issues retaining guys all the way to retirement. Recruitment numbers have been at an all-time low in this area.”
But coming into the station and having a dog around makes all the difference.
“Sometimes we’re going call to call to call to a lot of people’s worst day. So as that starts to weigh on you, you come in here, you’re writing reports, most people forget that he's even here until you open the door and his nose is coming out the door or he’s running down the hall to greet you, it immediately takes you out of your head,” he said.
“Totally different than Clover. Clover was much more calming and Cruz just makes you laugh so both have huge positives and were big assets to the apartment, so we're hoping Cruz can stick around for a long time," he said.