JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — To help sexual assault survivors, their families and the first responders who help them, the Women’s Center of Jacksonville (WCJ) is welcoming a new team member on board.
>>> STREAM ACTION NEWS JAX LIVE <<
To help make this possible, K9s For Warriors is celebrating Mental Health Awareness Month by donating Hero, a retired service dog, to the WCJ.
[DOWNLOAD: Free Action News Jax app for alerts as news breaks]
Hero will be of additional support, working alongside the traditional therapies practiced in the WCJ and helping to alleviate the stress and anxiety that some survivors may feel in coming to terms with what happened to them. Hero has been described as having a high level of emotional intelligence. She will work within the WCJ programs to detect when someone is experiencing painful emotions. Hero will then help stabilize these emotions.
“We are delighted to have Hero join us,” said Teresa Miles, executive director of WCJ. “We know that many survivors can really have a hard time working through the emotions that remain after the trauma.”
Read: Orange Park teen beats cancer, gets scholarship to NYU
Miles is also the primary controller for Hero, and K9s For Warriors has been helping train other staff members to be secondary controllers.
“Hero is adjusting very well and I have been pleasantly surprised by the amount of support he is already providing to the staff,” said Miles. “Clearly the intent behind getting a therapy dog was primarily for the clients, but I can already see the role it will play in supporting the team supporting survivors and listening about trauma throughout the day.”
Hero is a yellow Labrador retriever that K9s for Warriors donated to WCJ. He is an American Kennel Club recognized therapy dog. As part of the nonprofit’s mission to end veteran suicide through the use of service dogs, K9s For Warriors also partners with first responder agencies and organizations that work closely to provide certified therapy dogs. through its nationwide Station Dog program.
[SIGN UP: Action News Jax Daily Headlines Newsletter]
“Hero’s extensive training and experience make him the perfect companion to provide comfort to staff and survivors in WCJ, as well as the law enforcement officers who work with them on a daily basis,” said Carl Cricco, CEO of K9s For warriors. “Having served as a full-fledged service dog, Hero provided unwavering support and companionship to his Warrior for years. We are confident that Hero’s presence will be a positive influence on those who need him most and we are honored that his good work continues to impact additional lives in our community.”