K9s For Warriors receives ‘Back the Blue’ award, donates Station Dog to JSO

‘Buster’ is 8th dog adopted through organization’s Station Dog Program

Buster was adopted by the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office through the K9s for Warriors Station Dog program. (WJXT)

The men and women who work for the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office will find some welcome relief from the stress and anxiety that come with the job -- thanks to a newly “hired” co-worker.

K9s For Warriors donated a Station Dog named “Buster” to the Sheriff’s Office on Thursday.

“While dogs and their special bond with humans are not new to any of us, bringing them into the workplace to help employees is a positive and exciting new approach,” Jacksonville Sheriff Mike Williams said. “The officers are the most important resource you have in an agency. And healthy officers are essential for a thriving community.”

Keeping first responders mentally healthy is a goal of the K9s For Warriors Station Dog program, which takes pairs dogs with law enforcement agencies to ease the stress and anxiety commonly found in dispatch operators, first responders and police officers.

Dogs adopted through the Station Dog program pose with their handlers and Attorney General Ashley Moody. (Far right: Jacksonville Sheriff Mike Williams and new Station Dog Buster.) (Provided by K9s For Warriors)

The program was recognized Thursday by Attorney General Ashley Moody, who presented K9s For Warriors with a Back the Blue Award. The award is designed to recognize officers, citizens and organizations that have taken extraordinary steps to forge positive relationships between law enforcement and the communities they serve.

“The brave men and women of Florida law enforcement often find themselves in extremely stressful and dangerous situations,” Moody said. “I am so thankful for the work being done by K9s For Warriors to help connect law enforcement heroes with K9s to help them heal and cope with some of the invisible wounds inflicted while protecting Floridians. I look forward to watching the Station Dog program grow and help even more members of our law enforcement community.”

Buster is the eighth dog adopted through the Station Dog Program, which has also placed dogs with the Atlantic Beach Police Department, Jacksonville Beach Police Department, Neptune Beach Police Department, Clay County Sheriff’s Office, Daytona Beach Shores Public Safety Department, and the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office.

Founded in 2011, K9s For Warriors has rescued more than 1,300 dogs across the country and paired nearly 700 veterans with trained Service Dogs to mitigate symptoms of post-traumatic stress, traumatic brain injuries and military sexual trauma.

The Station Dog program takes trained dogs that will no longer be paired with veterans and places them with police and fire departments.

After completing the K9s For Warriors puppy raiser training program, K9 trainers designated Buster as better suited for Station Dog duty. The nonprofit said it worked directly with JSO to evaluate the station environment and identify personnel who would be responsible for Buster’s care. Buster received preliminary training to recognize signs of anxiety, and he will spend time in JSO’s dispatch center to recognize signals of stress and intervene.

“We are dedicated to supporting our nation’s heroes, and while our focus is on helping military veterans overcome mental trauma, we started the Station Dog program to extend that support to the heroes who continue to serve our communities,” said Rory Diamond, CEO of K9s For Warriors. “We are honored to be recognized by Attorney General Moody, and we are excited to partner with JSO in bringing Buster to their department as a way to help relieve the pressure our first responders face every day.”

Moody has issued more than 40 Back the Blue Awards since launching the campaign. To nominate a law enforcement officer, citizen or organization for a Back the Blue Award, or for more information about Attorney General Moody’s Back the Blue campaign, click here.

To learn more about K9s For Warriors and to support the nonprofit’s programs, visit www.k9sforwarriors.org.

About the Author:

A Jacksonville native and proud University of North Florida alum, Francine Frazier has been with News4Jax since 2014 after spending nine years at The Florida Times-Union.