Winnipeg fire paramedic stations open doors to doggie dates to help boost morale

Winnipeg fire paramedic stations are opening their doors to four-legged friends in an attempt to boost morale among staff and find fur-ever homes for pooches.

Pooch-hosting program also aims to help find home for adoptable dogs

Murphy the dog and Winnipeg firefighter paramedic Dylan Peters at Station 9 on Thursday. The new Station Doggie Dates program has been piloted there for the past few weeks and may expand. (Warren Kay/CBC)

Winnipeg fire paramedic stations are opening their doors to four-legged friends in an attempt to boost morale among staff and find fur-ever homes for pooches.

Station Doggie Dates enables Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Service crews to host an adoptable dog in their station during a shift.

Tim Arbuckle, captain of WFPS Station 9, said having Murphy the dog around lately has helped alleviate stress from the environment after crews return from a tough call.

"It's awesome," said Arbuckle. "I've witnessed first-hand just coming back from a call definitely guys are looking for Murphy and Murphy is looking for them too." 

The program builds off an existing city Animal Services Agency program that allows Winnipeggers considering adoption to take a dog out for a day, weekend or up to a week, said Leland Gordon. 

The general manager of city Animal Services said the program has been piloted at Station 9 for about a month in some stations but was just officially unveiled Wednesday. Already, two other stations have reached out to Animal Services wanting dogs in their facilities, said Gordon.

WATCH | Station Doggie Dates a big hit at WFPS Station 9:

Doggie dates for Winnipeg firefighters

1 year ago
Duration 1:42
The Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Service and the city's animal services department have teamed up for a new program in which adoptable dogs are loaned to stations to alleviate an over-supply of dogs while helping firefighters relieve stress.

"It's a win-win because nobody likes dogs sitting in kennels and an animal shelter," said Gordon.

"Murphy has been very spoiled at this station: he's gone home overnight with firefighters and paramedics, he actually went to a very fancy cabin on an island this weekend."

The program grew from a recognition of the challenges fire paramedics face on the job.

"It's a hard job that they have here and we know that there's lots of terrible calls that they go on," he said. "We thought … how amazing would it be to come back after one of those calls and have a dog to snuggle with?"

Christian Schmidt, Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Service chief, says he has already received positive feedback directly from some staff. (Warren Kay/CBC)

WFPS Chief Christian Schmidt echoed Gordon. He's spent a couple evenings at Station 9 since Murphy arrived and it's had a clear impact on personnel and the dogs.

"I've already had a number of staff reach out directly to me in writing to express their appreciation," he said. "As a leader that's great feedback." 

The other great part of Station Doggie Dates is how it will further build awareness about the city's adoption program, said Schmidt.

Murphy has been living at Station 9 on Marion Street for about three weeks . He's comfortable there for now, but the end goal is still adoption. 

"Not sure we want to see Murphy go," Arbuckle said. "He'll be hard to replace."

Murphy is still up for adoption, but until then will spend more time at WFPS Station 9. (Warren Kay/CBC)