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Greater Trail Victim Services welcomes support dog

Briefs from the Trail and Greater District RCMP
Jen Penney, program manager, Trail and Greater District RCMP Victim Services, and Ireland. Photo: Trail RCMP

The Trail and Greater District RCMP has welcomed a little Ireland to their mix.

Ireland — a gorgeous black lab/golden retriever cross — is the new facility support dog at RCMP Victim Services, based in the Laburnum Drive RCMP detachment.

She was purpose-bred and specially chosen for her new working role.

The lovely girl was brought to the program with support from the Regional District of the Kootenay Boundary and Sgt. Mike Wicentowich.

“Ireland is such an exciting addition to our team at victim services and we can’t wait to see all the positive impacts she will make,” says Wicentowich.

Facility Support Dogs (also known as Justice Facility Dogs) assist Canadian professional agencies that work with vulnerable people who have been impacted by trauma/tragedy or have been the victim of a crime.

Ireland is specifically trained to provide compassionate support, attuned presence, and a calming influence to those experiencing extreme emotional responses to certain events. The program says impacts seen by professionals when deploying the dog are “nothing short of amazing.”

Facility dogs provide cathartic and healing touch where human responders cannot. They may help reduce negative stress responses and increase positive neurochemical production in the body, and they may reduce blood pressure and heart rate. These special animals may also help people to function better cognitively which would assist victims in their ability to effectively communicate and improve memory.

Some of the ways Greater Trail victim services will use Ireland are: crisis intervention (including on scene support and debriefings), client meetings, agency visits, forensic interviews, police statements, court accompaniment, and hospital examinations. Ireland and her handler will receive ongoing training and yearly assessments to ensure clients are getting the best possible trauma-informed, client-centred care.

Along with providing direct support to clients, Ireland will be engaging in community events and public education.

She is identified by her red vest.

Ireland was raised and trained under the highest of standards by the Lions Foundation of Canada Dog Guides.

They are a founding member of the Canadian Association of Guide and Assistance Dog Schools and a fully accredited member of International Guide Dog Federation and Assistance Dogs International.

Victim services

“People do not always need advice. Sometimes all they need is a hand to hold, an ear to listen and a heart to understand them.” Anonymous

The Greater Trail Victim Services Program is located in the Trail and Greater District RCMP Detachment. The Regional District of Kootenay Boundary and the BC Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General co-fund the program.

A team of professionally trained staff and volunteers operate 24 hours a day to ensure victims have immediate support following a traumatic experience. The goal is to prevent further traumatization, or re-victimization following a traumatic experience.

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Sheri Regnier

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