Saskatoon

Quinn the facility dog trained to 'deal with the unexpected'

People who have experienced trauma in central and northern Saskatchewan will have the option of getting support from a new four-legged helper.

Dogs with Wings certifies specially trained facility dogs to support victims of trauma

(Submitted by Saskatchewan Health Authority)

People who have experienced trauma in central and northern Saskatchewan will have the option of getting support from a new four-legged helper.

Quinn the facility dog and his handler Jillian Doucet are the newest team members at Gateway Regional Victim Services (GRVS), a non-profit funded by the Ministry of Justice to support victims of crime and other traumatic events.

"I've seen facility dogs ... walk into a room and make a difference," said Bob Harriman, a retired RCMP officer who was the MC at the press event on Tuesday.

"The calming effect is instant and it's glaring," he said. You'll fall in love with this pup in 30 seconds or less and it will make a big difference in many peoples' lives."

The program is a partnership between GRVS and the Saskatchewan Health Authority and aims to give people involved in traumatic events another type of support.  

The SHA will have the ability to request Quinn's services, with an emphasis on particularly vulnerable people, such as child abuse victims, domestic violence victims, sexual assault victims and seniors who are victims of illegal home entry.

Different than a therapy dog

Quinn is certified through Dogs with Wings Assistance Dog Society, a dog training school that breeds, trains and raises guide dogs, service dogs, autism dogs and facility dogs.

Doreen Slessor, executive director of Dogs with Wings, said facility dogs like Quinn are different than emotional support dogs or therapy dogs. 

"He was trained to work an eight-hour day in highly stressful situations and to deal with the unexpected," said Slessor.

You'll fall in love with this pup in 30 seconds or less and it will make a big difference in many people's lives.- Bob Harriman, retired RCMP officer

Quinn has been trained to be present at various stages of a crisis, including at the scene of a traumatic event, when victims are being interviewed or at Criminal Court if victims have to testify. 

Slessor said it took two years to train Quinn and cost $40,000, but that cost will not be passed on to GRVS or the SHA.

Doucet will be travelling with Quinn throughout central and northern Saskatchewan as needed. A vehicle has been donated to help them get around.

The program is a three-year agreement and Quinn will be living with Doucet throughout that time.

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