Shea Dever

Degree Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Science (BS)

Date Information

May 2015


Criminal Justice

First Advisor

Jeb Booth


According to General Strain Theory, suicide, drug/alcohol abuse and violence are the result of maladaptive coping strategies in response to strain (Agnew, 1992). This study looks at categories of Po-lice Officer stress in congruence with Agnew’s categories of strain: failure to achieve positively valued goals, the presence of noxious situations or events, and the removal of positively valued stimuli (Agnew, 1992; Menard & Arter, 2013). It then measures the consequences of strain, both emotional and physical, in the officers involved in the study, and compares the results with the officers’ access to both emotional and instrumental support systems. The police “code of silence” subculture regarding mental health issues often leaves those officers who are struggling on the job with no one or nothing to turn to for help. Consequently, alcoholism, drug abuse, domestic violence, on-the-job violence and suicide are prevalent issues among law enforcement officers. This study will compare the buffering effect on stress and strain that the presence of a dog, both on and off the job, has on law enforcement officers. Dogs may serve as an intervening variable in the relationship between strain and negative behaviors. It is expected that having a permanent K-9 unit in each department would have a positive effect on police officer health and well-being by providing social and emotion-al support. Therefore, the use of K-9 units as a stress management tool as well as a law enforcement tool will also be discussed.