AT&T Supports First Responders in Maine with Comfort Dog Program

AT&T Blog Team
September 23, 2022
Public Safety


AT&T Supports First Responders in Maine with Comfort Dog Program

First responders in Maine and across the country deal with traumatic and high-stress events daily. In particular, the dedicated women and men of Maine’s Emergency Communications Centers are public safety’s first line of response. And too often they silently carry the burden.

Many resources exist that can improve coping and recovery, enhance morale, decrease stress and reduce emotional distress. Studies have shown that interacting with animals can have a positive impact on these stressors and more.

Baxter CloseupWith this in mind, AT&T Maine worked with the Maine Bureau of Emergency Communications and Hero Pups, a New Hampshire-based all-volunteer non-profit organization dedicated to training and pairing dogs with veterans and first responders, to bring a new member to Maine’s public safety community. His name is Baxter, a chocolate lab puppy, who will become the state’s first comfort dog for Maine’s three Emergency Communication Centers.

Owen Smith, President of AT&T Maine, joined Brodie Hinckley, Director of the Maine Bureau of Emergency Communications, and Laura Barker of Hero Pups to announce Baxter and introduce him to some of the dispatchers in Augusta.

Baxter will provide health and mood-boosting benefits to Maine’s Emergency Telecommunicators and to the community. Hero Pups will continue to train Baxter with his handler, Director Hinckley, until Baxter is ready to enter service early next year. Hero Pups works with mostly shelter and rescue dogs and involves veterans and first responders in the dog’s training process.

AT&T’s support to Hero Pups helped bring Baxter to the Bureau of Emergency Communications. This support comes as part of AT&T’s longstanding relationship with public safety in Maine and across the country. Through FirstNet, a nationwide communications network built by AT&T dedicated to first responders, we collaborate closely with the public safety community. In doing so, we recognized the need for resources focused on first responder health and wellness. To amplify and support first responder health and wellness efforts, FirstNet established the FirstNet® Health & Wellness Coalition.

Public Safety Commissioner Michael Sauschuck and Director Hinckley deserve great credit for prioritizing the health and wellness of their dispatchers; and for taking action by instituting a comfort dog program. Laura and everyone at Hero Pups continue to work hard preparing Baxter to be the best comfort dog he can be.

With just a wag of his tail, we know Baxter is going to make a major impact at the Maine Bureau of Emergency Communications and in communities across the state. Find out more here.