Blog: South Yorkshire Police OK9 dogs are a hit

Published 5 Jun 2023
Written by
Inspector Andy Coulter
South Yorkshire Police
Reading time
5 mins

In this blog Inspector Andy Coulter from South Yorkshire Police tells us all about the success of OK9 wellbeing dogs in his force and how they are received by officers and staff.

Female police officer hugging an OK9 wellbeing dog

At South Yorkshire Police we have really taken our OK9 dogs to heart, with 30 dogs working across the force we wanted to get a clear picture of how the dogs were being received by our officers and staff so we carried out a survey and the results are in. 

Some 518 people completed our wellbeing dogs survey, with 93% of those in favour of the initiative.

Some positives headlines to come from the survey include:

  • 85% believe the dogs are visible across the whole force 
  • 82% have received a visit
  • 90% were left feeling positive after a visit
  • 91% felt it provided a welcome break from their work
  • 82% felt it reduced their stress
  • 93% felt the experience with the dogs brightened up their day
  • 69% felt the handlers managed the visits in a fully inclusive way, taking account of people's phobias, allergies etc.
  • 53% of respondents felt the number of dogs was about right, while 31 per cent felt there aren't enough!
  • 68% felt the handlers were friendly, approachable, knowledgeable around mental health and provided empathy, guidance and signposting where necessary. A further 30 per cent sat on the fence and 2 per cent disagreed.
SYP OK9 wellbeing dogs laying on floor being petted


As the force lead for the wellbeing dogs scheme, I would like to thank the 518 colleagues who took the time to complete the survey and provide such valuable feedback on the service the OK9 dogs provide in force.

While 93% of those who replied agree that the initiative is a good one, I would also like to thank the small number of colleagues who spoke up to flag any issues they had. I cannot reply directly to the people who provided feedback as it is anonymous, however I would like to assure everyone that all of the comments are being reviewed and where necessary processes will be modified taking account of the feedback. 

Our OK9 wellbeing and trauma support dogs are all much-loved pets of South Yorkshire Police officers and staff working in a variety of ranks and roles. Following training and a suitability assessment, they are available for visits to different teams and colleagues across the force to provide a wellbeing boost. They can also be deployed to meetings and de-briefs following serious incidents, to help get people talking in the aftermath of often traumatic events. 

SYP OK9 wellbeing dog sitting in between two men


Here is a small selection of the positive feedback received from those who completed the survey:

  • I think it's a brilliant initiative and made a welcome break when we had a surprise visit from Chase, the wellbeing dog.  Great trainer and great animal.  It made my day! 
  • The dogs were a brilliant addition to our very nervous first week of training. I think all new starters should have a visit in the first few weeks of training, this definitely helped me! 
  • More visits! We absolutely love the wellbeing dogs coming into our office, it makes our day. We had a random visit from one officer with his dog and it was such a lovely surprise. 
  • Personally, I just find the energy and enthusiasm of the dogs lifts the mood and are a positive influence - just being able to cuddle and stroke them makes me feel better and more energised. Even if you didn't like dogs, the handlers are good to speak to as SYP colleagues and they're not over-bearing.  I really enjoy their visits - Ken is my favourite! 
  • This is a fantastic initiative, no changes, please just continue to bring the wellbeing dogs in.  It provides a welcomed distraction, to a stressful environment. 

Find out more about OK9 wellbeing and trauma support dogs

Go to OK9 dogs

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