Canine Crisis Response Program


Crisis Canine Laci

The Sheriff's Office is proud to introduce the volunteer Canine Crisis Response Team. These specially trained handlers and their furry partners are now available for call out 24 hours a day to the scene of critical events. Their mission is to help comfort and offer compassionate support to survivors, their families, or bystanders during and after a traumatic incident. This is a very unusual mission.

 

Many people are familiar with therapy dogs that visit patients in hospitals or care centers. These canine teams have been doing therapy work for years, but now they have taken 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.

 

The handlers also 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.

 

We believe the Washington County Sheriff's Office is one of the first law enforcement agencies in the Pacific Northwest to use crisis response canines in this manner, and we are very proud of the quality handlers and canines that comprise the team. The handlers have been trained and certified for this work and have extensive experience in animal-assisted therapy. Some handlers come from careers in medicine, law and law enforcement, and behavioral health. All have passed a complete background investigation.

 

Since becoming sworn volunteer special deputies in December of 2007, they have assisted with death notifications following fatal incidents, assisted in defusing a family disturbance, and joined in a neighborhood meeting to address important and, for some, predictably emotional issues. They have also provided services at community activities and public events.

 

Our Canine Crisis Response Team canines are in the finest of health. They are all trained and certified in Animal Assisted Therapy and as Canine Crisis Responders under the auspices of Dove Lewis Animal Assisted Therapy and Education Program, the Delta Society, and Cascade Canine Crisis Response. As you can see by their pictures, the handlers use a variety of breeds to do this special work.

 

 

Marcy and Otis

Marcy Lowy and Otis

Marcy, who has a graduate degree in counseling, and was founder/owner of the toy store, Child's Play in NW Portland, retired in October 1995. After several years of volunteering with reading programs in the Beaverton School District, she has "gone to the dogs." Volunteering in animal-assisted therapy was the perfect way to combine her love of animals, and her skills and experience in the area of behavioral health.

 

Marcy has been volunteering the last seven years with her eight-year-old Portuguese Water Dog, Otis, as a team with her husband Richard, and their second dog, Willy. It was clear from the time he was a young pup that Otis would be the ideal canine partner to bring his special brand of comfort to hospitalized children and adults. They are proud to have worked with emergency responders, workers, and family members in New York City at Ground Zero and other sites a few months after the 9/11 attacks. Their travels have also included working at Red Cross evacuation shelters following major forest fires in California, and responding locally for the Red Cross, Tualatin Valley Fire & Rescue chaplaincy, and at "Operation Purple" - a free two-week summer camp for children whose family members are deployed in Afghanistan and Iraq.

 
Richard and Willy

Richard Lowy, M.D. and Willy

Richard, a retired physician, was a practicing Radiation Oncologist and Director of the Maybelle Clark McDonald Cancer Center at Providence St. Vincent Hospital for 25 years. Following his retirement 11 years ago, he spent 5 years as a Washington County Court Appointed Special Advocate. He and his wife, Marcy, have worked as a team in this very special field.

 

Another Portuguese Water Dog, Willy, who is now 4 years old, came into their lives when he was 8 weeks old. When he was 18 months old, he was ready to join his housemate, Otis, as a Delta Society registered therapy dog, and then, a year later, was also trained and certified for HOPE Animal-Assisted Crisis Response. Willy is a very calm, sweet, and happy dog, who will cross a room just to greet and snuggle with a young child. He loves his visits at Shriners Hospital for Children where he offers comfort to all ages of children, their parents, and much-appreciated petting breaks for the hospital staff. Willy has worked with children who have family members deployed in the military at the "Operation Purple" camp, and has been interacting with visitors and staff in the Sheriff's jail lobby.

 
Linda & Emma

Linda Friday and Emma

Linda is a practicing Registered Nurse, Licensed Massage Therapist, and a Certified Small Animal Massage Practitioner. She has also been a Red Cross volunteer. Linda and Emma have been active members with HOPE AACR since 2004, and involved with animal-assisted therapy since 2000. They are members of Delta Society and Dove Lewis Animal-Assisted Therapy and Education. This team visits senior assisted-living facilities, and Emma accompanies Linda to work on a regular basis, providing welcome stress relief for office staff and patients. Emma recently retired from agility competition with several major wins on a national level to her credit.

 
 
Linda, Laci & Candi

Linda Tschida, Laci and Candi

Linda Tschida and her two canine partners, Laci (a first generation Labradoodle) and Candi (a German Shepherd/Labrador mix) have visited at nursing homes and assisting living centers, and have volunteered in the "Read to the Dogs" program in the Forest Grove School District. Linda and both dogs are certified through HOPE Animal Assisted Crisis Response. During Linda's career as a Registered Nurse, she has served first in geriatric care and now as a psychiatric nurse at the Oregon State Hospital in Portland.



For more information, please contact Chaplain Bryan McKelvey at (503) 846-6061.