The Fredericton Police Force is introducing a new member to its ranks.

City Council approved the use of Bella, a Labrador retriever, at Monday night's meeting.

Bella will be used as a therapy dog with the Fredericton Police Force.

Victims and people who witness crimes are often left feeling vulnerable after tragic events, but the police force hopes its newest recruit will be able to help.

"Particularly with children, if they're traumatized by an event, just having a dog in the room, just sitting beside them they can pat the dog and talk to the dog a little," Chief Leanne Fitch said.

"It just helps to lessen anxiety, and not just with children but adults as well."

A calming influence

Fitch said the use of therapy dogs is shown to have a calming influence in stressful situations.

"We've seen these applications in hospitals and rehab centres, so we know that there's a healing application with animals and humans,"  Fitch said. "We're really looking forward to it being a successful program."

Five-year-old Bella has been certified with the St. John Ambulance and is the force's first therapy dog, Fitch said.

Tom Barton, an auxiliary officer with the Fredericton Police Force, and his wife, Letha Barton, are Bella's owners.

"This is a brand new component to the victim witness program … double bonus for us is that the handler is one of our auxiliary officers," she said.

Fitch said the use of the dog comes at no cost to the city and she expects Bella will soon be on duty.