Every year, thousands of fires occur in California and the results have been catastrophic. Marin County has a wide-range of first responders including firefighters/paramedics, dispatchers, search and rescue and law enforcement who answer the call to help and protect. Marin County alone has over 400 firefighters working 365 days a year. Being on the frontlines can be physically and mentally challenging, and these everyday heroes often feel under-supported, overwhelmed, and under-appreciated.
First Responder Therapy Dogs leads the way in addressing behavioral health needs by providing emotional support to first responders. Research shows that therapy dog services positively impact this population's behavioral health issues.
The use of therapy dogs has demonstrated the following outcomes:
“We are tasked with things that push us to our limits,” John Aitchison, a firefighter in Marin County shared. “And having something like a dog brings some type of normalcy back into our lives. Having that comfort is absolutely therapeutic.”
First Responder Therapy Dogs address behavioral health needs by providing emotional support to first responders with the use of therapy dogs.
• Delivering therapy dog services to first responders in a practical, healthy, and safe manner.• Providing a platform for education regarding the use of therapy dogs to support first responders.
• Expanding the number of therapy dogs available to provide services.• Growing available therapy dog services and programs.• Developing a sustainable funding plan.
Heidi Carman, a Marin resident, founded First Responder Therapy Dogs and now serves in two capacities: Executive Director and Development Director. One lead, certified therapy dog (Kerith) is used in the field at this time.
• Mary Currie, Communication Consultant
• Emily Janowsky, Vice-Chair, Corte Madera Park and Recreation Commission
• Joe O’Connor, Sales & Marketing Specialist, Edition One Books
Heidi Carman is the Founder and Executive Director of First Responder Therapy Dogs. Her background in dog training, raising puppies for Guide Dogs for the Blind and her passion for helping people led her to where she is today.
Heidi is passionate about ending the mental health stigma in the first responder community. Her experience with bringing her therapy dog Kerith to visit firefighters at wild fire base camps, and fire stations has shown her the positive impact therapy dogs have on this population. When exhausted fire crews get a visit from Kerith they are re-energized, less stressed and leave with an overall feeling of wellness.
During the 2020 California fire season Heidi was able to share the importance of therapy dogs for firefighters to the world through numerous national and international media coverage. The story of Kerith’s work and the benefits she has brought the fire service is something that Heidi is very proud of.
Heidi is committed to raising awareness and hopes to address behavioral health issues associated with the stressful work of first responders. She intends to make certified therapy dog teams available to as many first responders in need as possible.
Kerith, a two year old Golden Retriever, is a certified crisis response therapy dog. Her specialty is working with firefighters. As a team Kerith and I visit wildfire base camps where we provide love and much needed stress relief to thousands of brave firefighters battling the fires in California. We additionally make regular visits to fire stations in Marin County, CA.
The goal of our visits is to help reduce the stigma of asking for help in the fire service. When Kerith is present the crews do not have to say a word. They are simply with Kerith. She has a gift of knowing who is stressed and who might need some extra attention.
Kerith has become very popular with many firefighters, healthcare workers, dispatchers and law enforcement. She even has her own children’s book which shares her story.
I feel so grateful to be able to share Kerith with the men and women who work so hard to keep us all safe.
We appreciate any level of donation that works for you. Your donations will be used to provide specific programs and to support our mission and goals. With your tax-deductible contribution, we will continue to be a powerful tool in helping first responders take to the frontline.
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Marin County, San Rafael, California 94901, United States
First Responder Therapy Dogs is a fiscally sponsored project of MarinLink, a
California nonprofit corporation exempt from federal tax under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Service #20-0879422.
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