Canine Crisis Response Program
The Sheriff's Office's all-volunteer Canine Crisis Response Team, which was introduced in December of 2007, is a very welcome addition to the WCSO community. These specially trained handlers and their furry partners were initially available for call out 24 hours a day to help comfort and offer compassionate support to survivors, their families or bystanders during and after a traumatic incident. Their mission expanded to include regularly-scheduled weekly visits to the jail, where they provide calming canine interactions to inmates within the pods, bring smiles to the jail deputies and staff, and have assisted jail chaplains in delivering upsetting news to inmates, such as notice of a family member's death.
The handlers help deputies at a scene by offering the canines as a supportive, constructive means of engaging civilians, thereby enabling the first responders to focus on the emergency at hand. For instance, the canines can offer their special kind of comfort and distraction to a child at an upsetting crime scene, or they can provide relief to family members or others at emergency incidents involving personal loss or injury. These could include the emotionally traumatic experience of a fire, fatal motor vehicle accident, a crime involving the victimization of a vulnerable person, or while awaiting the outcome of a search and rescue operation. Since becoming sworn volunteer special deputies in December of 2007, our canines and handlers have assisted with death notifications following fatal incidents, assisted in defusing family disturbances, and joined in neighborhood meetings to address important and, for some, predictably emotional issues. They have also provided services at community activities and public events.
Many people are familiar with therapy dogs that visit patients in hospitals or care centers. These canine teams are required to be active and experienced in animal-assisted therapy work before being able to complete a higher level of training as canine-assisted crisis response teams. These canines are conditioned to remain focused and interactive in environments that have many distractions, such as construction equipment, sirens, environmental hazards, or large crowds. They are also selected for their natural sensitivity to those experiencing intense emotions. The handlers come from varied backgrounds in medicine, nursing, teaching, behavioral health, and business. All have passed a complete background investigation.
We believe the Washington County Sheriff's Office is one of the first law enforcement agencies in the Pacific Northwest, and perhaps the country, to use crisis response canines in this manner. We are very proud of the quality handlers and canines that comprise the team.
Our WCSO Canine Crisis Response Team handlers and canines are trained, registered, and active in animal assisted therapy by Pet Partners, known formerly as Delta Society. To be part of the WCSO team, they have all successfully completed advanced training and certification by Cascade Canine Crisis Response, which trains and certifies animal-assisted therapy teams for canine comfort work following a traumatic incident. As you can see by their pictures, the handlers have a variety of breeds to assist them in this special work.
Linda Friday is a practicing registered nurse, licensed massage therapist, and a certified small animal massage practitioner. She has also been a Red Cross volunteer and is an active member of the WCSO Posse. Linda became involved with animal-assisted therapy in 2000 and was sworn in as a WCSO Canine Crisis Response Team member in 2007. She now participates with the team by partnering and working with other team members who have two qualified canines. She is also a member of the Northwest Oregon Community Crisis Team, headed by WCSO Chaplain Bryan McKelvey and Deputy Shoana McKelvey.
Miss Lillie (Chocolate Labrador) and Breezy (Black
Joanne Huntley retired in 2004 from Pacific Northwest Bell. Ever since childhood, dogs have been an important part of her life. She got her first dog when she was 11 years old and was she was drawn to training, showing, and grooming activities. In the early 1990's, Joanne began volunteering with Oregon Humane Society in their new animal-assisted therapy program. She currently volunteers with Miss Lillie (UKC Champion Sterling's Gorgeous Hussy), born in 2002, and Breezy (UKC Champion Clover Creek's She Came Runnin'), born in 2008.
Besides her long commitment to animal-assisted therapy and crisis response, Joanne is a member of several dog clubs. She continues to train and compete in obedience, agility, fly ball, conformation, and hunting skills, in which Miss Lillie and Breezy have been awarded many titles.
Marcy and Richard Lowy
Willy (Portuguese Water Dog)
Marcy and Richard Lowy are both retired from their careers, in counseling and medicine respectively. Volunteering in animal-assisted therapy and crisis response was the perfect way to combine their love of animals with their experience in assisting those affected by difficult situations. The Lowys founded and became co-directors of Cascade Canine Crisis Response, from which the WCSO Canine Crisis Response Team recruits their members. They were sworn in as WCSO Canine Crisis Response Team members in December, 2007.
Willy (AKC Champion Tanaki's Will Turner) was born in 2003 and entered the Lowys' lives as a puppy. Willy matured into a very calm, sweet, and happy dog who will cross a room just to greet and snuggle with a young child.
Michael and Scotty Richardson
Crunch (Golden Retriever)
Michael and Scotty Richardson are retired and have been
doing animal-assisted therapy with their canine companions for over two
decades. They wear a lot of other hats in their canine volunteer activities,
working with Clark County Juvenile Facility,
the "Read to the Dogs" program at the main library in , and many other organizations. Michael and Scotty are both certified
PetPartner evaluators for first time and re-certifying PetPartner teams. Vancouver
Crunch carries on the legacy of his mom, Harlow. The two worked together as a team with the Richardsons until Harlow's passing at 13 years old.