JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Some smiling faces joined the Jacksonville Fire And Rescue Department this week. They're loyal, dependable and love to play fetch.
On Tuesday, K9s For Warriors announced the donation of two therapy dogs to the Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department through its Station Dog program.
K9s says the dogs are black labs and American Kennel Club recognized therapy dogs. Their names? Gunner and Cash! They'll join JFRD’s Peer Support Team to help improve the mental health of local first responders.
They become the 15th and 16th dogs to be adopted through K9s For Warriors’ Station Dog Program, respectively.
"It is important to note that these dogs are not diverted from any Warriors in the K9s For Warriors program, and the departments receiving these Station Dogs are receiving them at no cost to them," said K9s in a statement.
K9s says station dogs ease emotional stress common in this line of public service and are made up of retired service dogs or dogs that have received extensive training from professional trainers but did not quite make the cut.
“First responders are regularly exposed to traumatic events and stressors that have a similar impact to what we see our veterans experience on a daily basis,” said Rory Diamond, CEO of K9s For Warriors.
“Our Station Dog Program’s main goal is to help mitigate stress and elevate emotional wellbeing through the level of companionship these dogs provide. We couldn’t be more thrilled to have Station Dogs Gunner and Cash working alongside members of JFRD’s Peer Support Team to do just that for our local heroes.”
JFRD’s Peer Support Team provides first responders with resources that help them better process the trauma and stressors they experience on the job. Gunner joins station #52 on 6130 Collins Rd. and Cash joins station #71 325 2nd Ave. S. where they will be involved in their station’s Peer Support Team.
“When our firefighters have been to a bad scene or are struggling with stress related to their job, Gunner and Cash provide comfort and companionship,” said JFRD Fire Chief Keith Powers. “They have the ability to sense distress, go up to those folks, help them relax and overcome that stress. They’re a very important part of our department.”
Tilly will also be joining the JFRD team as a therapy dog, however, was not donated by K9s For Warriors.