2020 Service to the Community Hero
Everyday, first responders put their lives on the line to keep us safe. They truly are heroes, but sometimes even the bravest among us need a hero of their own. In just three short months, a stray dog wandering the streets of Phoenix became just that- a hero.
From years of military and police work, Officer Edward Morales’ body began to breakdown. Through his efforts to heal he learned many of his fellow officers also suffer from anxiety, stress, and symptoms of PTSD and he decided he simply had to do something to help.
Officer Morales set out to create a new program to support his fellow law enforcement officers.
He began by incorporating a meditation room, self-regulation techniques, and technology to monitor heart rate variability; all meant to help officers build resilience and manage stress. The program certainly drove change, but to truly provide resilience to those protecting and serving our community, they needed a HERO.
Officer Morales knew something was missing so he reached out to dog trainer and behavior specialist and founder of the Nagi Foundation, Sheila Iyengar, in hopes of finding the perfect rescue dog to add to the program. So, the search began, and the perfect candidate was soon found at Friends for Life Animal Rescue in Gilbert.
Cora recently had a litter of puppies and found herself wandering the streets alone where she was picked up and brought to Maricopa County Animal Care & Control as a stray. Sadly, like thousands of dogs each year, no one arrived to claim her and she was taken in by Friends for Life Rescue in hopes of finding a forever family. However, Cora’s true calling would soon become clear.
She began three months of training with Sheila and it quickly became apparent that she had an extraordinary ability to calm a room and be tough enough to carry the burden of others- no easy task!
Cora passed her certifications with flying colors, and just three months after being found on the street became Gilbert Police Department’s first-ever therapy dog. Through this innovative program, Cora makes an incredible difference in the lives of the officers and staff she supports, empowering them to show up for each of us and our community. She spends her days working alongside those who are regularly exposed to trauma, stress, and tragedy. Her mere presence alone has the power to encourage officers to share difficult emotions and experiences which has proven to improve their health and well-being.
Please join us on February 29th to learn more about Cora’s inspiring impact and celebrate her as our 2020 Service to the Community honoree! For further information and to purchase your ticket, visit azpetproject.org/hero.