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Pup helps Roy first responders deal with mental health issues

Posted at 6:07 PM, May 26, 2023

ROY, Utah — May is Mental Health Awareness month, and one local fire department has found a furry way to help first responders deal with difficult situations.

K-9 Haddie is a service dog trained to emotionally support first responders in Roy.

“She means everything to me. She’s my best friend,” said Roy City Fire Battalion Chief Mike Hadley.

Haddie is Hadley's dog, and he trained her to be a service animal through a local non-profit, 4 Paws 4 Patriots.

“Part of the fire family,” said Hadley. “Everyone loves her and she loves seeing them and getting loves from them and helping them when they need it.”

Haddie comes in after large incidents to help support first responders.

“We do that critical stress debriefing, and she can feel a room and see who needs the help, and sometimes it’s the person you’re least expecting,” explained Haddie. “She’s very smart and intuitive.”

Haddie also comes into the station on some days that Hadley works. She puts on her service animal vest and runs around to help.

“She’ll seek them out, she’ll go find them. Whether they’re in their office or they're at the kitchen table or wherever, she knows where they’re at,” said Hadley.

Hadley says mental health for first responders is often overlooked.

“A lot of times, people just kind of bury their feelings and don’t want to share them. They feel like they have to put on this tough exterior," he said. "We get called all the time not on a person’s good day. We don’t ever get a call on a good day — it’s always someone’s bad day.”

But having Haddie around has had an impact.

“I always think it just calms you down a little bit and brings more happiness and brings the mood to a better place than it was before, if a call's got you down or something,” said Morgan Miller, a paramedic firefighter with the Roy City Fire Department.

Sometimes, Hadley takes Haddie around on calls with him.

“If we had a bad car accident or something like that, I would use her for the public as well. So it’s not just necessarily for just first responders — that’s kind of what I trained her for, but in all reality, she loves everyone. She loves attention, obviously," he said.

He hopes more people have someone like Haddie to help.

“If more stations could incorporate that more, I think that’s a really cool thing for all of us to have for sure,” said Hadley.