Va. fire department gets therapy dog to cope with tragedy
Wally, a 10-month-old goldendoodle, was donated by Caring Angels Therapy Dogs to help firefighters deal with witnessing trauma on the job
By FireRescue1 Staff
FAIRFAX COUNTY, Va. — A therapy dog was donated to a fire station to help firefighters cope with witnessing tragedy on the job.
WTOP reported that Caring Angels Therapy Dogs, a group that donates service dogs to veterans suffering from mental health issues, donated 10-month-old Wally to Fairfax County Fire Station 32 to offer emotional support to the firefighters.
“This is a pilot program. We hope that everything works out and Wally stays here because obviously you can see the firefighters love Wally,” Battalion Chief Willie Bailey said. “When firefighters are coming off calls and they’re still tense and still thinking about that call, Wally can kind of soothe them, calm them down.”
Wally, a goldendoodle, will have designated trained handlers to take care of him during all three shifts at the firehouse.
“This is probably one of the only dogs in the Metropolitan area that lives at a fire station 24/7, 365 days a year,” Chief Bailey said.
Wally’s handlers said he is trained to help the firefighters when they need it.
“He knows who’s stressed and he’ll go to him and kind of help them. And that way that person doesn’t have to reach out,” handler Lt. Katja Lancing said. “He’s making the contact. He’s making the first step.”
Commander Captain II Daniel Borden said Wally decreases the tension at the firehouse, and hopes to increase the program if it goes well.
“If the pilot program works out well, they’re going to try and help us to see if they can provide us more dogs … to put in other stations here in Fairfax County,” Captain Bailey said.