First Responders, including firefighters, paramedics, EMS, law enforcement, dispatch centers, and search and rescue personnel, answer the call to serve and protect.
These jobs can be physically, emotionally, and mentally challenging. First Responders can experience extreme stress, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), depression, and even suicidal impulses. Within this population, there is a stigma attached to asking for help.
Treatment tools such as time-off and incident debriefs are not enough. First Responder Therapy Dogs offers a new, simple, effective, free mental health tool – emotional support from a trained therapy dog—without the stigma of asking for help.
Trained teams (handler and dog) go into the field and visit on-duty first responders. The goal is to provide this free service to as many first responders in as many locations across the country as possible. We provide this service in-the-field with a hands-on approach. All of our services are volunteer-based.
Therapy dogs have a calming effect. Their presence helps reduce blood pressure and stress while improving moods, allowing responders improved focus on the communities they serve while also receiving care for themselves.
Research demonstrates that therapy dog services positively impact this communities' mental health challenges. Research shows that therapy dog services positively impact this population's mental health issues.
The use of therapy dogs has demonstrated the following:
Visits to fire stations, police departments, emergency rooms, and 911-call centers, dispatch centers are scheduled in advance.
During the one to two-hour visits, therapy dog teams spend time with the personnel on shift bringing an instant uplift to the mood and energy in the room.
Following a challenging call, a defusing session typically occurs with the given first responder staff involved. A therapy dog joins to assist attendees in addressing their emotional responses to what they experienced during a high stress incident. The dogs handler also attends but does not participate in the session.
Wild Land Fire Base Camp visits are offered in Arizona, California, Colorado, and Oregon. Visits occur as the fire fighter are getting ready to go back on shift to continue battling a fire. In California, First Responder Therapy Dogs coordinates visits with Cal Fire and the U.S. Forest Service. These visits take place over several days as the team(s) visit personnel on different shifts.
January 2021 through August 31, 2023:
June 1, 2023
Social Media interest continues to grow -- as of May 31, 2023.
1. 5K followers with over 470,000 Instagram views, @firstrespondertherapydogs
2. 16K Instagram followers for our very first therapy dog, Kerith @kerith_the_golden_retreiver
3. 2.3K Facebook followers First Responder Therapy Dogs
4. 27.7K likes on TicTok firstrespondertherapydog
5. 70K YouTube views First Responder Therapy Dogs
6. 64 LinkedIn followers First Responder Therapy Dogs (Note: LinkedIn account is new as of late March 2023)
We appreciate any level of donation that works for you. Donations are used to bring therapy dog services to as many first responders as possible. First responder organizations rely on our services but do not fund them. With your tax-deductible contribution, we will continue to be a powerful tool in supporting the mental health challenges faced by first responders.
Sign up to stay connected via our periodic e-newsletter - "Tails with Kerith"
For general information | Info@firstrespondertherapydogs.org 415-250-8107
First Responder Therapy Dogs, INC 2100 4th Street #C153, San Rafael, CA 94901
First Responder Therapy Dogs, INC is a registered 501(c)3 nonprofit. Tax ID #88-1386472.
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