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Canine care: Perrysburg Twp. fire station dog comforts first responders

Dora, a black labrador, helps comfort first responders at Perrysburg Township's Fire Station 74 with sloppy kisses and a happy attitude.

PERRYSBURG, Ohio — Those at Perrysburg Township Fire Station 74 are always on the run, even those with four legs.

Dora, a black labrador, arrived at the fire station four years ago and has been a beloved resident since.

Station Captain Michael Hampton is also known as Dora's Dad.

"Every time I walk in without her, it's not 'hey, good morning.' It's 'hey, where's Dora,'" Hampton said.

Hampton said he brings her during his shifts. Another dog, Rosey, comes in on another shift.

"When I miss mine at home after a long day it's nice having a break here with (Dora) when she comes in," Kim Katafias, the Perrysburg Township Police Department chief administrative assistant, said.

At places like the fire station or police department, those long days can come often. Responding to calls day in and day out can be challenging and put a strain on the mental health of first responders, Hampton said.

"Organizations would be lying to themselves if they didn't realize that every organization in public safety has some form of PTSD, whether the person admits it or not," Hampton said, "There isn't one specific tool that's not going to help you in any given situation, sometimes it's an accumulation of multiple tools, so one of the tools is Dora."

Dogs inside police and fire stations have been a popular tool to help first responders while on the job.

"She's such a positive influence and you can't help but smile when she comes running through the department," Katafias said.

Katafias said Dora loves to play fetch, lick people's face and munch on yummy snacks.

When Dora isn't searching for her next treat, she's searching for the first responder most in need of her comforting presence and jovial personality.

"She's there, no judgment, no talking, you don't have to explain yourself to her," Katafias said. "She's just a comfort and she just wants to be with you and she's just nothing but full of love and kindness."

Fire, police and dispatchers share connected buildings, so Dora is able to run to each department in the building.

Hampton said that having a black lab jump on your lap and lick your face after a hard call can turn a difficult day into one with a happy pup begging for pets.

Dora provides comfort for the first responders and they treat her with kindness and respect in turn, Hampton said.

"She runs it around here now, so she's the boss woman."

Here are some mental health and PTSD resources for first responders in Ohio:

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