Allina Health celebrates five years of groundbreaking Emergency Management Services Therapy Dog Program

Allina Health EMS Therapy Dog celebrates 5th birthday

SAVAGE, Minn. (Jan. 11, 2024) — Allina Health is celebrating the fifth year of its groundbreaking Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Therapy Dog Program on Thursday, Jan. 11, 2024. The date also coincides with Evie LaCroix’s fifth birthday.


As Allina Health’s first EMS therapy dog, Evie’s job is stress management. First responders deal with immense stress daily, and research shows working with a certified therapy dog, such as Evie, boosts oxytocin levels and reduces stress.

“Evie is well loved. Just the sight of her can take the edge off a tough day,” said Kyle Strege, Allina Health EMS operations supervisor and Evie’s handler. “Many of our paramedics and EMTs choose to simply pet her or play a game of fetch. She helps them to decompress and release some of the hardships from the day.”

Allina Health began the EMS Therapy Dog Program in 2019 to support the mental health and well-being of Allina Health EMS personnel. Evie is believed to be the first EMS therapy dog in Minnesota. Because of her success, the program added two more dogs: Bodhi and Westin. The therapy dogs and their handlers have traveled the states of Minnesota and Wisconsin explaining and demonstrating the benefits and structure of the program. As a result, other EMS agencies have also started their own therapy dog programs.


About Allina Health

Allina Health is dedicated to the prevention and treatment of illness and enhancing the greater health of individuals, families and communities throughout Minnesota and western Wisconsin. A nonprofit health care system, Allina Health cares for patients from beginning to end-of-life through its 90+ clinics, 12 hospital campuses, 14 retail pharmacies, and many specialty care centers and specialty medical services, home care, and emergency medical transportation services. Learn more at and join us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.