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In 2022, the Michigan Department of Corrections received its first Wellness Response Dog, Handel. Originally trained as an assistance dog at the Gus Harrison Correctional Facility, Handel was adopted by Peer Support and Chaplain Joe Coats when COVID-19 cases began to rise in Michigan. After recognizing the benefits a trained dog would provide MDOC employees, Chaplain Coats gifted Handel to the MDOC Wellness Unit.
Handle lives with Wellness Coordinator Sandi Powell, who serves as his primary handler. The duo trained as a dog team with PAWS with a Cause and now spend their time supporting MDOC employees who wish to see him as he works, whether during rounds, after a critical event, or as requested for a presence at a specific location.