Writer / Matt Keating
Luna, a new therapy dog with the Noblesville Police Department, is now out and around the city helping people.
Benjamin Lugar, patrolman first class with the department’s support division and NobleACT officer, says Luna serves a valuable purpose.
“Therapy dogs provide individuals with a safe avenue to explore emotions and overcome adversity during crisis events,” Lugar says. “Therapy dogs help break down barriers to communication. By combining emotional support and therapeutic interventions, such as nuzzling and laying on the lap of someone in crisis, therapy dogs can help reduce anxiety and stress, in addition to biological stressors like heart rate, blood pressure and breathing.”
Luna meets a lot of different people in her job.
“We expected the community members and officers she supports to respond positively to her,” Lugar says.
Lugar did some research before bringing Luna on board.
“In researching therapy dog programs, I saw how effective they can be at de-escalating crisis situations and providing much-needed emotional stabilization in people,” Lugar says. “K9 Luna will operate in a dual capacity, serving both our internal officer wellness programs as well as our community-focused programs through NobleACT.”
The City of Noblesville joined forces with the Noblesville Police and Fire departments to create NobleACT, a program aimed at mental health issues and substance abuse. The NobleACT team conducts community-focused outreaches, community education trainings and community awareness events.
Lugar notes that Luna is the premier therapy dog for the department.
“K9 Luna will be a first for the Noblesville Police Department,” Lugar says. “To my knowledge, we are the first police agency in Hamilton County to utilize a therapy dog.”
Luna is currently in training at Ultimate Canine in Westfield.
“K9 Luna came to the department on February 23 for three days of training and certification with her handlers here,” Lugar says. “K9 Luna will have one primary handler, myself, and three secondary handlers – Chief of Police John Mann, Sergeant Brice Swart, who oversees officer wellness, and Tiffany Davis, who is the Noblesville Fire Department’s community resource paramedic. This will allow K9 Luna to serve in multiple capacities.”
Luna has received a very warm reception from the Noblesville community.
“We are excited to welcome K9 Luna into the Noblesville Police Department’s family,” Lugar says. “She will be a valued addition to the NobleACT program and to the Noblesville community.”