There’s more to this pooch than just his adorable looks, he has a serious job to do. This Labrador Retriever calms crime victims in Vancouver.
On Tuesday, the Vancouver Police Department introduced their newest recruit. He is furry. He has webbed feet, a blocky head, and an otter tail.
His name is Lucca and he is a 3-year-old yellow Labrador. Lucca is the department’s first “intervention dog” and works out of the victim services unit. His job includes being a calm influence on distraught victims and witnesses of crime and tragedy.
“The presence of a dog like Lucca can help calm the nervous system, reduce anxiety, decrease heart rate and lower blood pressure,” said handler Sue Baker, who is a crisis intervention case worker at the department. “As well, Lucca’s involvement can help diffuse strong emotion, provide a healthy distraction in the midst of crisis and be a source of cathartic touch and physical comfort.”
The Labrador Retriever has been on the job since February 8.Since then, the 68-pound dog has provided his services and calming sweetness in cases related to homicides, assaults and armed robberies.
Baker said the Labrador, who is on loan from the Pacific Assistance Dogs Society (PADS), has been adored by all the victims he’s had contact with on the job. Nobody has refused his services.
“Some clients will pat him and hug him and kiss him and interact with him in a very physical way,” said Baker. “Others have made comments like, ‘He’s so gentle, he’s so calming.’”
Lucca lives with Baker and he is only the second dog in the B.C. area to do such work. The first, Caber, joined the Delta Police Department in 2010.
Caber calmly sat beside a young sexual assault victim as she testified at a trial in Surrey provincial court.
Although the dog breed’s temperament is typically suitable to this type of work, Tara Dong of PADS said trainers allow the dog to choose their own path.
Dong added that Lucca and Caber are dogs that seek out people in moments of crisis.
“A lot of dogs would shy away from people like that – it’s a little scary, a little unnerving for them,” Dong said. “Lucca is one of those dogs that seeks people out when they’re upset. But more importantly, at the end of the day, he knows how to shake it off and not kind of carry all that emotion that gets unloaded onto him.”
An assistance dog like Caber and Lucca can cost up to $35,000 to train. Recently, PADS received a $60,000 grant from the government’s civil forfeiture branch to help with funding of the society’s intervention canine program.
Source: Vancouver Courier