Therapy dogs working throughout Prince George helped kick off Victims and Survivors of Crime Week at the South Fort George Family Resource Centre this morning (May 27).
This awareness week, which takes place from May 26 to June 1 is entitled 'The Power of Collaboration: Many Voices Speak Many Words' and highlights the work of three local victim service providers.
The Elizabeth Fry Society, Prince George Native Friendship Centre’s Victim Services, and the RCMP Victim Service Unit all provide support for the victims of crime.
“When we look at victims and survivors of crime week its raising awareness around victims and survivors and also recognizing and acknowledging the many individuals working in this field in the anti-violence sector,” said Bali Bassi, Coordinator of the Victim Service Unit at the Elizabeth Fry Society.
“And any crime, any victim and survivor crosses many demographics and geographies. The theme this year is the power of collaboration.”
All three organizations support victims of crime throughout the often harrowing events surrounding a tragedy or trauma by providing crisis intervention, emotional support, and information about the criminal justice system.
Yogi, the RCMP’s Crisis Canine Therapy Dog, was present at the kick-off event with his therapy dog friends from other organizations in the community to show off some tricks and demonstrate how effective therapy dogs can be to make people feel calm.
Yogi’s owner is Krista Levare, who not only works with RCMP Victim Services but trains other therapy dogs with her company Caring K9 Institute.
“Anytime there is a crisis in the community we would attend that scene and determine whether yogi would be a good fit for that situation or not,” says Levare.
“Another thing he does is attend interviews with police, so if the police need assistance and want to build rapport quickly with children he would be able to attend those interviews, and he attends court with victims who need to testify.”
Levare says there are no words to describe how effective therapy dogs are in helping people in need.
“People instantly connect with them,” says Levare. “As a human who is trying to help people […], it takes time to trust somebody. Whereas with dogs as soon as somebody reaches down and touches a dog they feel connected to that dog and they know the dog is not going to judge them or make them feel uncomfortable.”
Caring K9 Institute has trained dogs who work in health care, with RCMP Victim Services, the Elizabeth Fry Society and School District No. 57.