At the September 11 City Council meeting, Mayor Skoog proclaimed September 2023 as National Service Dog Month in Overland Park, a momentous occasion celebrating the incredible contributions that service dogs make to our community.
To honor the recognition, we asked the City’s resident service dog, Haven, to share a bit about her important work.
My name is Haven, and I am the loyal companion of the Overland Park Crisis Action Team, or OPCAT for short. I hold the official title of Critical Incident Response Team K-9, but to my friends and colleagues, I’m simply Haven. I have a unique story of my own. I was rescued from an animal shelter in Texas, and I’ve since dedicated my life to serving and supporting the Overland Park Police Department and the residents of Overland Park.
My role in OPCAT is quite special. I provide peer support to the Police Department, and I assist on calls for service where my presence can help an officer form a bond with a citizen in crisis. The world can be a daunting and overwhelming place for those who are struggling with mental health, and that’s where I come in. My calming presence and unwavering loyalty can make a world of difference in these challenging situations.
OPCAT is a team that’s well-prepared for any crisis call. The officers receive extensive training to respond to various types of crises. They have officers trained to assist with specific groups, including the elderly, youth, homeless individuals, veterans, members of the LGBTQIA+ community, and individuals with developmental disabilities or substance abuse issues. It’s a diverse team that’s ready to lend a helping hand, or paw, to anyone in need.
Therapy dogs like me have a unique role in the community. We assist adults and children through difficult situations and help bridge the gap between the public and the Police Department at community events. It’s a privilege to bring comfort and support to those who need it most.
Learn more about me and the OPCAT team at opkansas.org/opcat.