AMES, Iowa (WOI) – Iowa State University’s Police Department has now enlisted a brand new officer. But she’s a different breed of cop.
“She can go out and interact with people and it has that calming effect on people. It gives them a chance to de-stress during these stressful times, especially around exam times,” said ISU Police Chief Michael Newton.
Iowa State students are preparing for finals, but two of the university’s newest employees are just getting started.
“The good news was that everything worked out when we hired Kinsey (Phillips) as our mental health advocate was she was already a canine handler with Zosia and so we were able to hit two of our priorities with one hire,” said Newton.
Zosia is eight years old and is a certified therapy dog.
“Anyone that we can reach out to, she’s great at de-stressing people, and just giving them some comfort and helping them relax,” said Phillips.
The need for her has grown, especially over the last three years.
“We’re seeing that nationally, as I talk to my counterparts across the country, mental health concerns for students, staff and faculty have risen and we’re seeing that in the general population too,” said Newton.
They’re hoping Zosia’s calming influence will only grow stronger in the coming years.
“I went to Iowa State, and it would’ve been a great resource, so I’m really glad that she’s here for students now,” says Phillips.
Zosia’s grandson, Zeb, is already in the therapy dog training program. He could be certified as well within the next year.