Meet Lucca, VPD’s Newest Recruit
Thanks to your generous donations, we were able to assist in bringing Lucca to the VPD. Lucca will be working with the Victim Services Unit as their new trauma dog. A part of his new role, besides looking adorable, will be working with individuals to help them get through traumatic incidents and crisis situations.
As a PADS dog (Pacific Assistant Dog Society), Lucca has been trained to provide a calming presence, a healthy distraction in moments of distress, and a cathartic touch. It has been proven that, through a dog’s presence, people’s stress hormones decrease, their bodies start to produce endorphins, and their anxiety is reduced
Sue Baker, Lucca’s handler and a Crisis Intervention Specialist for the VPD was interviewed and has this to say to our donors:
“We are grateful. We had to do our strategy to come up with the funding for the program, it’s not inexpensive. Without the donations that were made specifically to our program through the foundation, we probably wouldn’t have the budget to do it. It brought life to the program.”
Lucca has been on the scene for a few months now and has already shown his impact. Please read below a few success stories provided by the Victims Service Unit (VSU).
A 14 year old girl was referred to the VSU by the school counselor. Her brother was murdered 2 years ago, and she was asked by Crown Counsel to write a Victim Impact Statement. She was very anxious about reliving the details and the impact of her brother’s murder. She was unsure about how to write this type of statement. Lucca and the Primary Dog Handler (PDH) met with the client, and her school counselor, for 90 minutes to talk about her feelings and provide support. The client was very interactive with Lucca, patting him and kissing him, and his presence seemed to provide her with some calm. Lucca was a pleasant distraction when she needed a break, which made it easier to talk about such a difficult situation. PDH was subsequently contacted by the school counselor who stated that the client’s experience with Lucca was “magnificent”. The client and her counselor have made another appointment to come and meet with Lucca and the PDH.
VSU was called out to attend the scene of a fatal industrial accident. Members of the deceased’s crew were severely traumatized due to the graphic exposure of the deceased’s injuries and their unsuccessful attempts to revive him. Lucca and PDH spent 4 hours at the scene providing crisis intervention and stabilization to the crew of 4. They were very receptive to Lucca and interacted with him in many different ways, ie -patting him, holding his leash, having him sit beside them as they wrote out statements. During the next few days, the PDH was requested by the VPD’s Critical Incident Stress Management Team to assist in facilitating a formal critical incident debriefing session at the workplace. This involved 4 hours with 18 employees.
The client, a 50 year old woman, was referred to VSU following an armed robbery in a restaurant. The client hid under a table after the suspects pointed a gun at her and threatened to shoot her. She was trying to complete an application to the Crime Victim Assistance Program, but was emotionally “triggered” every time she tried to write about the incident. The client requested a meeting with the PDH for support with completing her application. At the meeting, Lucca lay at the client’s feet. She was very receptive to his presence, and commented on how “calm” and “gentle” he was. The client was able to successfully complete her application, and stated that she was pleased to be able to “take another step forward”.