ACF14234

Victim Services K-9 Crisis Intervention

  • Submitted by:

    Erb and Erb Insurance Brokers Ltd.

    Location:

    Waterloo Region

  • Idea Created:

    October 1, 2012

    Budget:

    Small (up to $50K)

Overview:

Our Organization  
Victim Services of Waterloo Region is a not for profit organization that provides programs and services to victims of crime and tragic circumstance in the region of Waterloo.  A one stop shop for victims, we offer immediate crisis intervention, high risk programs, safety planning, public education and limited financial assistance for specific crimes 24 hours a day 7 days a week. 
 
Our Project     
Victim Services wishes to introduce a remarkable program that utilizes a trained K-9 to interact with victims of crime or tragic circumstance, many of which are children and other vulnerable individuals who must face harsh realities and endure a long process of victimization.  Comforting victims at the scene of a crime, or accompanying officers on next-of-kin notifications.  The therapy dog can assist by helping them relax while talking with detectives and Crown Attorney’s about their experience.  The victimization process also includes difficult disclosures to police, children being uprooted from their homes, having to testify in court, childhood sexual abuse and many other traumas that often immobilize victims, preventing them from moving forward.  In many cases, victims are later re-victimized due to the extended criminal court process, media, and many other challenges that present.   
Working closely with emergency service providers such as Police, Fire and EMS our goal is to reduce the impact of victimization so that victims can move along their journey towards healing.  Failure to support victims appropriately often results in maladaptive coping mechanisms, psychological consequences, physical consequences as well as social, financial and existential.   

Overview
 
Dogs as a form of therapy grew as a result of the use of dogs during 9-11 in New York City and other large scale events such as school shootings.  Victim Services immediately saw the benefits of a therapy dog to enhance its services to our community and began speaking with critical stakeholders.   
This program is ground breaking for Ontario by expanding our paradigm of the way crisis intervention is delivered.  Already prevalent in many District Attorney’s offices and courthouses in the United States, K-9 crisis intervention would be the first of its kind in Ontario and second in all of Canada.  There are a number of critical stakeholders within the region of Waterloo that support this program and they include but are not limited to; Child Witness Centre, Family & Children’s Services, Women’s Crisis Service, Waterloo Regional Police Service, The Humane Society, Funeral Homes and many more.   

Benefits   
Research clearly shows that this type of therapy has numerous benefits that include; Helping to normalize a traumatic situation, Bridging communication gaps, Reduces anxiety, Grounds people who are agitated or upset, Lowers blood pressure, Helps reduce the effects of depression, Provide unique distractions that are often helpful for those who are struggling.

Community Support   
There are a number of critical stakeholders within the region of Waterloo who wholeheartedly support this program introduction. 

"Family & Children’s Services is committed to a model of service that promotes service collaboration and partnership. We believe that we can improve outcomes for children and families when we work collectively to share resources, including our human capital and our skill.  The K-9 proposal being put forward by Victim Services would therefore be a welcome addition to our community.” (Family & Children’s Services, Waterloo Region)  

Summary

This K-9 program will change the way we view crisis intervention and reaches victims of crime on an entirely different level that may lead to better outcomes.  Ontario and more specifically, Waterloo Region is ready for this ground breaking program.    
The $50,000.00 support from the AVIVA Community Fund would take this from concept to reality.  With your assistance, Waterloo Region could lead by example setting the bar for alternative forms of service delivery.  Just as the United States has embraced this concept so too can communities within Ontario and even Canada.