St. Joseph County 911 center adopts dog for dispatchers

ST. JOSEPH COUNTY, Ind. (WNDU) --- Every day is a toss-up for 911 dispatchers.

"It could be a little kid that would like help on his homework to a baby not breathing," explained Raymond Schultz, the executive director of the St. Joseph County 911 communications center.

Knowing his employees deal with the extremes and the daily job stresses, Schultz sought to lighten the load. He said St. Joseph County Commissioner Dave Thomas sent him a news article about the Johnson County 911 center in central Indiana fostering a dog from its local humane society.

"When [you] kind of get the blessing from your bosses that it might be a good thing to do, you kind of run with it," Schultz recalled.

Running into the call management center in late February was Twix, an 8-year-old Lab mix from the St. Joseph County Humane Society.

"Even after the first week, we didn't want to lose him," remarked Sheri Wass, a 911 dispatcher.

Sometimes, things seem too good to be true. A few weeks after the 911 communications center began fostering Twix, the humane society called back because a family was interested in adopting him.

"It was definitely sad," Dawn Burger said. "We thought we were going to lose him."

Schultz took Twix back to the shelter, but it turns out, the dog wasn't a good fit for the family.

"I thought about that time. It was like, 'You know what? I'm never doing this again. I can't do it,'" Schultz described, recalling what it was like to take Twix away from the dispatchers who assumed the other family was going to adopt the dog.

Schultz wound up adopting Twix for the dispatchers. He said the family that initially surrendered the dog to the humane society had a history of abuse. Twix was not necessarily abused.

"It's almost like he can sense when somebody's having a bad day or when something's gone wrong," Schultz said.

Overall, the dog appears to be embraced by the dispatchers.

"It's known far and wide that animals can have a soothing effect," said Sheri Wass, a 911 dispatcher. "If you have something a little rough, you can call him over and go over to him, pet him for a little bit, and he just makes you feel better."

Schultz said he does not foresee Twix becoming a certified therapy dog.

Nevertheless, Twix has become fond of the dog park and running around in the fenced-in yard at the St. Joseph County 911 call center.