Meet Champ, a six year old Labrador retriever working in the world of child protection in Australia. His handler is a relative of Petersfield based Jan Welsman, who introduced him to the Dogs with Jobs team.

Yellow Labrador retriever looks above the camera, which is at dog level. Champ wears a navy blue and green neckchief, with the words Victoria Paw-leese on it.

Champ works full time as an office-based engagement dog within the Australian Federal Police, supporting officers’ mental health. He is part of the Victorian Joint Anti Child Exploitation Team (JACET), which falls under the aegis of the Victoria police, but which also works collaboratively with other agencies in child protection within the state and nationally.

It’s an area of police work that can be stressful, upsetting and emotionally draining, making officer welfare a top priority. We hear not only from Champ’s handler, Detective Senior Constable Cheryl Goad, but also observations from Inspector Carla Mcintyre on the impact Champ has had on office culture. 

Like emotional support or well being dog programmes elsewhere, Champ’s job wasn’t necessarily part of a strategy at the start, but grew organically and, as the interview makes clear, was made possible thanks to the generosity of Tessa Stowe of

What is notable and impressive here is how Champ’s role has been surveyed, monitored and embedded into the organisation as a whole.  

Which means that Champ’s role is not just a job – it’s a prototype for how police and other emergency services could look at harnessing the emotional welfare benefits of canine company in the workplaces, in Australia and elsewhere.

Cheryl explains how the initiative came into being and how Champ’s welfare, both as an on duty and off duty support animal is always top of mind. 

Connected episodes:

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