JFRD’s Peer Support Team Collaborates with Local Nonprofit’s Therapy Dog New Program
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (July 26, 2022) – K9s For Warriors, the nation’s largest provider of trained Service Dogs to military veterans, announced today the donation of two therapy dogs, Gunner and Cash, to the Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department through its Station Dog program. As part of its mission, K9s For Warriors partners with law enforcement and first responder agencies to provide reliable, high-quality K9s that provide emotional support to law enforcement officers, firefighters, dispatchers, victims, and others who are repeatedly exposed to traumatic events in the line of duty.
Both black labs, Gunner and Cash, are American Kennel Club (AKC) recognized therapy dogs. They become the 15th and 16th dogs to be adopted through K9s For Warriors’ Station Dog Program, respectively. Station Dogs ease emotional stress common in this line of public service. Station Dogs are made up of retired Service Dogs or dogs that have received extensive training from our professional trainers but were not quite cut out to be Service Dogs.
It is important to note that these dogs are not diverted from any Warriors in the K9s For Warriors program, and the departments receiving these Station Dogs are receiving them at no cost to them. The K9s For Warriors Station Dog program is an American Kennel Club recognized Therapy Dog program.
“First responders are regularly exposed to traumatic events and stressors that have a similar impact to what we see our veterans experience on a daily basis,” said Rory Diamond, CEO of K9s For Warriors. “Our Station Dog Program’s main goal is to help mitigate stress and elevate emotional wellbeing through the level of companionship these dogs provide. We couldn’t be more thrilled to have Station Dogs Gunner and Cash working alongside members of JFRD’s Peer Support Team to do just that for our local heroes.”
JFRD’s Peer Support Team provides first responders with resources that help them better process the trauma and stressors they experience on the job. Gunner joins station #52 on 6130 Collins Rd. and Cash joins station #71 325 2nd Ave. S. where they will be involved in their station’s Peer Support Team.
“When our firefighters have been to a bad scene or are struggling with stress related to their job, Gunner and Cash provide comfort and companionship,” said JFRD Fire Chief Keith Powers. “They have the ability to sense distress, go up to those folks, help them relax and overcome that stress. They’re a very important part of our department.”
Link to headshots and photos of therapy dogs Gunner and Cash: https://we.tl/t-gS8KQIGgG7.
About K9s For Warriors
Determined to end veteran suicide, K9s For Warriors is the nation’s largest provider of trained Service Dogs to military veterans suffering from PTSD, traumatic brain injury and/or military sexual trauma. With most dogs coming from high-kill rescue shelters, this innovative program allows the K9/Warrior team to build an unwavering bond that facilitates their collective healing and recovery. This treatment method is backed by scientific research (from Purdue University’s OHAIRE Lab) demonstrating Service Dogs’ ability to help mitigate their veteran’s symptoms of PTSD while simultaneously restoring their confidence and independence. Founded in 2011 as a 501 (c)(3) nonprofit organization, K9s For Warriors remains committed to bringing widespread awareness to veterans’ mental health and contributing to policy-level reform.
The organization’s five facilities include: K9s For Warriors National Headquarters (Ponte Vedra, FL) Davis Family Mega Kennel (Ponte Vedra, FL) Gold Family Campus (Alachua, FL) Petco Love K9 Center (San Antonio, Texas) and K9s For Warriors at Heidi’s Village (Phoenix, AZ).
About Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department
The Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department (JFRD) serves about 950,000 residents in an area covering 840 square miles. The department employs approximately 1,800 personnel. JFRD has 62 fire stations, 59 engine companies, 59 full-time rescue units and 15 ladder trucks. All of this apparatus contains advanced lifesaving equipment. JFRD responded to 171,560 calls for service in 2021.