The Monmouth County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals has started placing shelter dogs with police departments to serve as emotional support for officers.

MCSPCA Executive Director Ross Licitra said the goals are to get shelters dogs in a loving environment and to provide police with a friend during their shift.

The Eatontown police department is the first in the county to receive a shelter dog from the MCSPCA, a husky named Tala who has been there for two months.

Tala is a purebred who came to the shelter on a transport and was originally rescued from a hoarding farm in the South. Tala lived outdoors with dozens of other dogs and rarely had any interaction with humans.

But Licitra said Tala's life changed when she arrived in New Jersey and met Police Chief Bill Lucia in Eatontown. While he is the proud adopter of Tala, she is the station dog. Her presence has been phenomenal with the staff, said Licitra.

These tough officers return to the station after a long day and all they want to do is de-stress. So having lunch with Tala, playing with her or taking her for a walk can do the trick.

Licitra said he's received calls from Middletown, Howell, Ocean Township and Neptune City police departments expressing interest in a station shelter dog.

The animals are not working dogs. They are not meant to be bomb or drug sniffing K-9s. They are simply hanging out and providing comfort and companionship.

Licitra said the dog is being rescued and, in a sense, the police are being rescued as well, especially with all the stress they endure. The dog loves this kind of environment because someone is at police headquarters 24/7. Someone is always around to feed, care for and play with the animal.

If it turns out it doesn't work, the dog can always return to the shelter and the shelter can find another dog that fits in better with a police department.

Interested police departments are welcomed to contact the MCSPCA for more information about the placement program by emailing info@monmouthcountyspca.org or calling 732-542-0040 x7.

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