VICD Service Dogs, a Division of BC & Alberta Guide Dogs, would like to announce the placement of Operational Stress Intervention Dogs, Ferus and Benji with the British Columbia Professional Fire Fighters Association (BCPFFA) and Burn Fund.
Benji has been placed with Peter Hansen, Home Away Manager for the Burn Fund Centre and retired District of North Vancouver Fire Fighter, and his wife Roxanne Gresham, a registered clinical counsellor. Benji will support burn survivors by attending the Burn Fund’s camps and retreats including the Little Lionhearts Family Camp and Burn Camp. Benji will also visit burn survivors staying at the Burn Fund Centre as part of the Home Away Program, which offers accommodation to those travelling to Vancouver for treatment.
Ferus is placed with Steve Farina, a Coquitlam Fire Fighter and Vice-Chair of the BC Professional Fire Fighters’ Association Mental Health Task Force who assists the Critical Incident Stress Management Team. Ferus attends defusings with his handler, who has been trained to handle Ferus in a supporting role at these sessions. Ferus performs pressure and tactile assistance tasks to help facilitate fire fighters in emotional down-regulation after a traumatic event has occurred on a call.
Thank you to our partners at the BCPFFA and Burn Fund for hosting us on November 5th as we celebrated these two very special dogs and the important work they do for those in need.
ABOUT Operational Stress Intervention Dogs (OSI):
OSI Dogs are professionally trained by VICD’s service dog instructors and placed with designated handlers. These handlers undergo training to learn the tasks that the dogs can perform, and also how those tasks can be specifically used within their operational work environment. After placement, handlers receive ongoing support from the VICD Client Services team, which includes mental health professionals.
Each dog is able to perceive environmental and interpersonal cues of stress and anxiety in the location they serve, and intervene with a variety of tasks. Some examples of these tasks include emotional down regulation, de-briefing support, retrieval and interactive activities, and alert to agitation. The dogs are also trained with custom tasks catered to their placement.
VICD Service Dogs is accredited by Assistance Dogs International (ADI) and meets the standards of excellence in all areas of training. Although the OSI Dogs do not require public access, they meet ADI training standards and are ambassadors for the program and centres