British Columbia

Meet the pug and Schnauzer puppies joining the RCMP in Prince George

Yogi and Henry are two puppies training to be part of the Prince George RCMP's Victim Services Unit, offering emotional support to children and adults in distress. They will join Max, a yellow lab who pioneered the therapy dog program in northern B.C.

Yogi and Henry are training to be part of the force's Victim Services Unit

They may just be pups, but Henry and Yogi are getting ready to join the RCMP. (Krista Levar)

The Prince George RCMP's therapy dog program is being expanded with the addition of two new puppies.

Yogi the pug and Henry the Schnauzer-Shitzu cross are in training to provide emotional support to victims of crime.

Victim services coordinator and dog trainer Krista Levar says the breed of dog is less important than personality.

"It's really just knowing what we need the dogs to do," she said.

Since Yogi (the pug) is more outgoing, he will be used to help bring people out of their shell.

'He's a ham'

"He's a ham, he's a big ham," said Levar. "If he is out there and he wants to get that attention and he's going go up to people and he's not shy, that's really important for someone who maybe is shy, and afraid to make that first contact."

Henry (the Schnauzer-Shitzu) is more reserved, so Levar thinks he will be a good fit in the courtroom.

"It would be easier for him to be on his mat, or just accessible, and people can hold him easily."

Max, a nine-year-old therapy dog, "has an ability to connect with people so much quicker than a human does," his handler Krista Levar says. (Audrey McKinnon/CBC)

Yogi and Henry are joining Max, a yellow lab who made headlines in 2015 when he helped a nine-year-old girl provide testimony in B.C. Supreme Court.

The first therapy dog to be used by RCMP in B.C. was Archie, a Duck Toller deployed to Hornby Island in 2012. Since then, the program has been expanded across the province.

The success of the therapy dog program is also turning into a side-business for Levar. This fall, she will be launching a training school to help people train their own dogs to provide therapeutic support.

"People that love animals and that love dogs just want an opportunity to be able to get their dog out doing stuff with them. What better way than to reach out into the community and help others and use your dog to do that?"

Yogi, Henry, and Max are being introduced to the public at an open house at the Prince George RCMP detachment Monday, August 8 from 3:00 to 4:00 p.m.

With files from Jordan Tucker.

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