FirstNet, AT&T launch therapy dog program to support first responder health and wellness

As part of the “ROG the Dog” animal-assisted therapy initiative, 30+ dogs will be stationed across the country to deploy following emergencies


By Janelle Foskett

WASHINGTON — In advance of the 2021 storm season, FirstNet, built with AT&T, has introduced “ROG the Dog” animal-assisted therapy to support public safety on the front lines.

Named after the FirstNet Response Operations Group (ROG) program, ROG the Dog encompasses a fleet of more than 30 trained Labradoodles that specialize in animal-assisted therapy for first responders. The dogs are stationed across the country to deploy following emergencies like hurricanes, wildfires and man-made disasters. This new initiative builds off the launch of the FirstNet Health & Wellness Coalition.

Global Medical Response (GMR) provides the therapy dog services. GMR chose Labradoodles because of their temperament, they are hypoallergenic, and well suited to providing calm and care in the middle of chaos.

In a press release, AT&T explains why this program matters to first responders: “Compared to the general population, first responders experience higher rates of depression, PTSD, burnout, anxiety and other mental health issues. In law enforcement, one study found a more than 20-year difference in life expectancy compared to the average American male. In addition, it’s estimated 20-25% of all first responders experience post-traumatic stress. Studies have shown that interacting with animals can improve coping and recovery, enhance morale, decrease stress, and reduce the effects of PTSD and emotional distress.”

Agencies on FirstNet can request ROG the Dog in the same way they request an asset from the FirstNet fleet. And just like the fleet, ROG the Dog is available at no additional charge. Call 800/574-7000 or contact a FirstNet Solutions Consultant.

Learn more about the FirstNet Response Operations Program, which works with public safety agencies to assess incidents and either deploy an asset, or identify and provide alternate solutions that could better serve public safety, such as expediting network restoration, quickly turning up indoor coverage, and now, providing therapy dog services following a crisis.

FirstNet is the nationwide, high-speed broadband communications platform built for America’s first responders and the extended public safety community. To learn more about FirstNet, visit FirstNet.com.

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