Meet Cleveland Police's first wellbeing and trauma support dogs

  • Inspector Phil Spencer, Wellbeing and Blue Light Co-ordinator

Cleveland Police has welcomed two new four-legged recruits to help support officers and staff with their mental health.

Bella and Sol are the Force’s first ‘Oscar Kilo OK 9’ Wellbeing and Trauma Support dogs.

In a ceremony held today (26 July), Bella, a 1-year-old female Labrador and Husky cross and Sol, a 9-year-old male Standard Poodle were presented with their official ‘OK 9’ wellbeing jackets and their handlers presented with certificates and pin badges.

Bella and Sol will work with the Force’s Wellbeing and Blue Light team to deliver a programme of initiatives across the organisation.

Their handlers, Amanda Buck, Centre Manager of Breckon Hill Community Centre and Hilary Brown, Cleveland Police Volunteer are both trained in First Aid Mental Health and Peer Support and will be available, on a voluntary basis, to any officers and staff who may need signposting to other services available within the Force.

Amanda Buck, Bella’s handler says, “I noticed that Bella would gravitate towards people who were anxious or stressed.  She showed compassion and her behaviour changed towards each individual.  Bella greets some people with excitement, others with a submissive roll over and others a slow snuggle. 

“At home, she is a typical puppy, chewing, stealing, and ruling the roost claiming every bed or chair as her own.”

Hilary Brown, Sol’s handler says, “I was so pleased to hear of this national initiative of having wellbeing dogs. I was approached by Inspector Phil Spencer, who had heard about Sol, to see if we would be interested in this. I said yes straight away as the pressure on officers and staff is immense and I hope that Sol can help.

“I volunteer for Blue Cross as an educational speaker and Sol is a Blue Cross education dog too. I have often said that Sol has such a lovely nature that he is here to bring joy to people's lives, so now he may be able to help even more people.”