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. 

Dan McFarling 

Parker (Golden Retriever)

Dan McFarling and Parker

Dan McFarling retired as a manager in the Oregon Department of Human Services in 2002. He spent most of his career in the regulation of health care facilities (primarily long term care). Parker is his seventh Golden Retriever. His ninth, youngster Gill, is in training to be a therapy dog. 

Parker and Dan volunteer at Kaiser Westside Medical Center, Doernbecher Children's Hospital/OHSU, and in the Read to the Dogs program at Beaverton City Library. They also do school visits and special requests. Parker is a professional model and animal actor, appearing in print ads, on national and local television, and live theater. Parker was known as "Wonder" in Channel 8 KGW's 2016 Great Toy Drive. 

Marcy and Richard Lowy

Arlo (Portuguese Water Dog)

Richard and Marcy Lowy and Arlo

Marcy and Richard Lowy 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. Cascade Canine Crisis Response member also partner with the Cascade Region American Red Cross, assist in the recovery phase of local and statewide traumatic incidents, and volunteer annually at summer camps for military, foster, and abused kids, and children who have lost loved ones. 

The Lowy's first Portuguese Water Dog, Otis, and his housemate, Willy, were two of the original canines in the program. Willy's son, Arlo (born June 2014), is following in the paw prints of his now-retired dad. He is very engaging, enthusiastic, affectionate partner who loves to snuggle with both inmates and staff. Arlo and the Lowys, as members of the animal-assisted therapy group, Columbia River Partners, also volunteer at Providence St. Vincent Hospital and Providence Seaside Hospital where they provide comfort to patients and staff.

Darlene Robinson

Odie (Golden Retriever)

Darlene Robinson and Odie

Darlene Robinson has been an instructor for the University of Phoenix for the past 16 years. Darlene has been training dogs since she was 11 years old and has been involved in aspects of 4-H dog training in later years. As members of Pet Partners Therapy Animal Program and Columbia River Pet Partners, Darlene and Odie visit Shriners Hospital for Children and several facilities that serve the elderly. They also participate in the Read to the Dogs Program at the Beaverton Library. Darlene and Odie are newer members of the WCSO Canine Crisis Response Team and have participated in Washington County special events and in regular visits to the Washington County Jail. 

Odie has been a joy to train, as he is both gentle and very intelligent. He truly enjoys meeting new people and "showing off," especially for children. They love working together as a team; Odie brings a smile to all who meet him. 

Joanne Huntley 

Breezy (Black Labrador)

Joanne Huntley and Breezy

Joanne Huntley retired 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 drawn to training, showing, and grooming activities. In the early 1990's, Joanne began volunteering with the Oregon Humane Society in their new animal-assisted therapy program. She currently volunteers with 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 Breezy has been awarded many titles. 

Linda Tschida

Laci, Becca and Maddie (Labradoodles)

Linda Tschida and Lacie, Becca and Maddie

Linda Tschida currently enjoys a career as a registered nurse, as well as a variety of volunteer work related to health, crisis response, and animal-assisted therapy. When she isn't working, Linda is an avid runner, trains seriously in martial arts, breeds labradoodles, and has been a volunteer at the Oregon Zoo since 2000.


In 2007, Linda and Laci were sworn in among the founding members of the WCSO Canine Crisis Response Team, while Becca joined the group later. Becca and Laci are sisters from the same litter and are both calm and people-oriented, but their approaches are different. Becca is the "old soul" who enjoys being right beside people and being petted. Laci is the "tom-boy" who enjoys doing things with people, such as going for walks, performing tricks, and being outdoors. 


Maddie, the brown dog in the middle, is the newest addition to the pack and to our team. She will be taking the torch from Laci and Becca when they retire. Maddie takes her therapy and crisis response work seriously and has a soft and gentle approach to people. She seems to be a balance between Laci and Becca in that she enjoys being with people but also enjoys the interaction that happens when she is shaking hands, bowing or doing other tricks with people. Her favorite activities are playing fetch, going for walks, investigating new smells, and doing nose work. 


JoAnn Houck
Boone (Golden Retriever)
Golden Retriever Boone and JoAnn Houcke

After 30 years in the nursing field, starting at Stanford University Hospital and ending in Oregon Health Science University School of Nursing, JoAnn retired in 2015. Prior to her retirement she had searched for the perfect Golden Retriever to team up with for work in animal assisted therapy and canine crisis response. 

JoAnn and Boone work with Washington County Sheriff's Department in their Canine Crisis Response Program as well as with the Washington County Juvenile Justice Program Hope.

They are certified members of Pet Partners, volunteer at Providence St. Vincent Medical Center, Cedar Hills Hospital and are also team members of Cascade Canine Crisis Response.

Boone enjoys bringing smiles, comfort, and love to all of the wonderful people he meets.