Ireland, RDKB's Furry Hero, Goes Social and Offers Comfort to Those in Need
The Regional District of Kootenay Boundary has proudly introduced its newest team member, Ireland – a facility support dog working alongside Trail RCMP victim services.
Despite her recent arrival in Trail, Ireland has already begun making a positive impact on victims and witnesses of crime or tragedy in the Kootenay Boundary area.
Ireland’s journey to becoming a justice facility support dog was guided by the Lions Foundation of Canada Dog Guides in Oakville, Ont. Highly trained and ready to lend a paw, Ireland provides solace and support to individuals facing tough times, offering them the unique comfort that only a real service dog can provide – with lap time, a calming presence, and an ever-wagging tail.
While there are approximately 50 justice dogs in Canada, Ireland proudly stands as the first and only accredited justice facility support dog guide in the Trail and Greater Area. She is the first in the Kootenay Boundary to support all ages, providing her RCMP and court services within the criminal justice system to children, youth and adults alike.
Having to do her job flawlessly, with no petting allowed on duty, she is very different to a therapy or emotional support dog. She has to be calm and quiet in public, ignore other animals and people, and has to toilet on command so she doesn’t do her business at an inopportune moment.
“Her role is to offer support, particularly to children, vulnerable victims, and adult clients during court testimonies,” explains Jenn Penney, RDKB’s Program Manager of Victim Support and Ireland’s primary handler.
“She brings comfort, one cuddle at a time.” Ireland’s presence will be felt in the witness box, client meetings, hospital examinations, forensic interviews, and community events.”
Penney emphasizes that facing emotional experiences or accusers in court can be isolating and frightening for many, but with Ireland by their side, individuals can find much-needed solace – even experiencing reduced blood pressure and heart rate.
She reassures, “It’s going to be okay.”
To keep up with Ireland’s heartwarming journey, follow her on her social platforms: @compassionatecanine on Facebook and @compassionatecanine_Ireland on Instagram.
Penney and her team plan to organize significant fundraisers within the local community to garner support from individuals and businesses alike.
Funds raised will be allocated to Ireland’s well-being and to expand her service area, reaching out to crime victims attending court sessions in more distant locations. Ireland is expected to make appearances at these events, both in person and, hopefully, in the form of adorable stuffed animals.
“We hope to create mini stuffed versions of Ireland that can be purchased, with a second one donated to a child benefiting from Ireland’s services. It’s all about spreading warmth and comfort,” said Penney.