MILTON — The dispatch center is often home to stressful situations.
At the Santa Rosa County Sheriff's Office, this rang true Tuesday as dispatchers answered a call from a mother and father, who had been stabbed multiple times by their son. Ultimately, the son was shot and killed by his father, and the dispatchers heard every single second of the situation.
But this time, dispatchers did not have to deal with the stress alone.
K9 Viber — a 6-year-old Belgian Malinois — was there to save the day.
Viber enjoys showing you her rope, playing with her rope, running outside, and getting as many belly rubs as possible. More than anything, Viber loves providing stress relief to her new family.
Janna Phillips, a Santa Rosa County dispatcher for 22 years, said the idea of bringing a support dog into the dispatch center came about after they noticed other agencies in Facebook groups that did the same.
"I had already spoke to the sheriff probably twice about it and never really thought that he would take it seriously," Phillips said.
But Sheriff Bob Johnson followed through.
Phillips had a pre-drafted policy copied from an agency in Arizona on her desk and gave it to Johnson for a look.
"I think he got tired of us asking, and he said 'Let's make it happen,'" Phillips said.
The next step after the policy was finding the dog. Phillips said a K9 handler for the Sheriff's Office had Viber as a breeder, but wanted her to find a family.
"She knew we could give (Viber) all of the attention she wants, and she could be really happy in here so she donated her," Phillips said.
Viber's new home is the dispatch center. She has two beds and a kennel in the captain's office with the door always left open so she can roam freely.
The team in the dispatch center take turns feeding and brushing Viber. She even has her own schedule binder.
Phillips said Viber became more necessary recently as some dispatchers have had to seek out counseling.
"(Viber) gets our minds off of the seriousness of some of the calls," Phillips said. "It's easier to shake it off if we can just go outside, take the dog, and play with the dog."