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Graduate Defense: Sydney Schultz
March 13 @ 1:30 pm - 2:30 pm MDT
Title: The Influence of K9 Partners on Law Enforcement Officers
Program: Master of Arts in Anthropology
Advisor: Dr. Shelly Volsche, Anthropology
Committee Members: Dr. Kristin Snopkowski, Anthropology; and Dr. Jessica Wells, School of Public Service
This study aims to examine if and how the personal and professional lives of K9-handling officers and their police department as a whole are impacted by having access to and working alongside K9s. Additionally, this research is examining the perspectives of non-K9 officers in regards to the use and impacts of K9s in police departments. It also is examining the possible variation in degrees of attachment to one’s dog between K9-handling officers and members of the general public. Through an online survey, questions from the Perceived Stress Scale and the Lexington Attachment to Pets Scale were asked to better understand how one’s extent of working alongside dogs can change levels of stress. It was found that K9-handling officers experience significantly lower levels of stress compared to non-K9-handling officers. Further, it was also found that K9-handling officers experience significantly higher levels of attachment and general connection to their K9 partner compared to members of the general public with their companion dogs. Overall, this study showed how dogs can have a major positive impact on their human partners in typically high-stress work environments, and not just in companionship situations. However, since research in this area is highly limited, more work should be done looking at the positive impacts of dogs on people working in high-stress, nice work environments, such as law enforcement and military. Additionally, more work should be done to examine how dogs in working positions are able to help the well-being of their human partner when both on and off work.