In a bittersweet tale of hardship and happiness, an adorable dog named Digby helped save a young woman who was about to take her own life.
The three-year-old Labradoodle assisted in defusing the emergency in Devon after police negotiators struggled to bring the individual back to safety over the railings.
Over in America, emotional support animals are recognised under law as a type of animal that provide comfort to help people with a mental disability.
This means US residents are allowed to take their emotional support animals wherever they might need, including airplanes, restaurants and offices.
Here in the UK, we are slowly waking up to the realisation that human and animal connections hold huge power and these relationships are being introduced into various therapies.
Recognising the value that animals can bring in critical situations, the progressive minds at the Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service have welcomed Digby aboard their squad.
Proudly sharing the news of their furry friend’s abilities, the team tweeted of his triumphs online while also wishing the woman involved all the best in her recovery.
They wrote: “This is Digby. Today he did something amazing and helped save a young woman who was thinking of taking her own life on a bridge over the M5 near Exeter.
“We were at the incident as part of a multi-agency response. Police negotiators were speaking with the woman, but the situation was becoming increasingly worrying.”
They continued: “One of the fire crews had the idea to bring along Digby, our ‘defusing’ dog. Digby helps crews who have been exposed to trauma during talking therapy diffusing sessions.
“When Digby arrived, the young woman immediately swung her head round to look and smiled. This got a conversation started about Digby and his role at the fire service.”
The woman was then asked if she would like to go and meet Digby if she came back over the railings, which fortunately she did.
Following Digby’s intervention, the woman was then escorted away by mental health professionals after she was safely off the bridge.
Speaking about Digby, a spokesperson for the Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue said he not only puts a smile on the crew’s faces, he also boosts their physical health too.
The spokesperson said: “Therapy dogs are simply themselves and people automatically feel at ease and comfortable engaging with a dog that is comfortable being stroked and made a fuss of.
“This is known to lower blood pressure and heart rate, which in turn helps the defusing process.”
We always knew dogs are a person’s best friend, but it seems they’re remarkable therapists too.
For confidential advice, you can contact the Samaritans website, email firstname.lastname@example.org, and/or call 116 123 at any time of day or night.