Champion Award - Stephanie Fahey

Just a year ago, the Hampden County Sheriff’s Office introduced its new Emotional Support Division.  Three therapy dogs were teamed with three staff members to fulfill various roles in the department.

One of these staff members, Stephanie Fahey, was honored with Dakin’s Champion Award, which is given to a public servant who faithfully serves and makes life better for animals and people in western Massachusetts.  The award honors their dedication and compassion on behalf of animals and people in need.

Stephanie is a mental health clinician who works with Molly, a five-year-old lab (shown in the photo).  The pair interact with people in individual and group therapy and Molly’s calm, warm demeanor is a valuable asset to the sessions.  Stephanie and Molly’s work is yet another example of the benefits of the human/animal bond, as the presence of an animal in the life of a person facing challenges elevates moods and brings relaxation.

At the launch of the Emotional Support Division program, Hampden County Sheriff Nick Cocchi stated, “From working with the incarcerated individuals and substance use disorder clients in our care to the staff and the public — these animals have a remarkable ability to decrease the tension in a room, and relieve anxiety.  They will help raise the quality of life behind the walls of our facilities as well as for the members of the public we engage in good times and in bad.”

Stephanie was selected for her pioneering work with Molly in the Emotional Support Division.  As one nomination noted, “She has dedicated herself to serving the community both inside and outside the jail.  She is making way for changes in corrections across the state.”