Sudbury

Newest addition to North Bay crisis staff: Chewie the dog

A new employee at Victim Services of Nipissing District in North Bay was introduced today.

His sole job would be used to ground people who are agitated or anxious' says Nipissing Victim Services

Chewie will be assisting Nipissing Victim Services with people in a state of crisis. (Carolyn Couchie)

A new employee at Victim Services of Nipissing District in North Bay was introduced today.

Chewie the dog, a two-year-old yellow lab, is being trained through the Citadel Service Dog program to help people in crisis.

Victim Services is a non-profit organization dedicated to helping people who have been victimized by crime or suffered through a tragic situation.

Carolyn Couchie, executive director of Nipissing District Victim Services, says Chewie will be available to help those who are feeling depressed, suicidal or stressed.

"His sole job would be used to ground people who are agitated or anxious and provide emotional support to people in crisis," Couchie said. "He's non-threatening. He'll perhaps reduce fear and anxiety in children that we encounter in the work that we do."

Couchie says she applied for funding for Chewie after seeing a similar program in southern Ontario.

And having Chewie around will also be beneficial to front-line workers, Couchie said.

"I think that eventually when there are difficult calls for officers [Chewie] might be a really welcome addition to the room," Couchie said. "Or when they're trying to debrief from something that's been critical or difficult for officers to attend to, as well."

When he's not working, Chewie will live with a North Bay police constable and his family.

With files from Markus Schwabe

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