Red Deer RCMP get therapy dog for victims of crime
‘The biggest impact is going to be for our children and our youth’
Harley started his new job this week as a therapy dog in Red Deer, and he's already comforted two children involved in a court case.
RCMP victim services officials say that shows the need for a therapy dog. They've been hoping to get a four-legged employee for years.
Harley, a two-year-old black Lab, is needed most to comfort young victims of crime while they are testifying or giving witness statements. He will also comfort adult victims, victim services staff and emergency services members.
"Our clients come in different stages of grief or crisis," said Const. Holly Erb, program co-ordinator for Red Deer RCMP victim services.
"We deal with clients of all crime types, as well as clients and family members who potentially are not related to a crime, however may have lost a loved one from natural or unnatural causes," Erb said Thursday.
"We provide support to them and services throughout the criminal justice system."
The Notre Dame High School graduating class of 2017 raised funds so the RCMP could get Harley.
The dog will take part in training exercises and public education presentations about the Red Deer RCMP victim services.
Erb would like to see therapy dogs for victim services in more Alberta cities.
"The need is there. It's just the dogs aren't there," Erb said. "The school's are so far behind in applications that a lot of them have been closed for the last few years. That was part of the reason there was such a long delay for Harley."
Harley comes from Very Special Paws, a service dog provider. Erb says he's the company's first placement.