The Sonoma Valley Fire District (SVFD) is excited to announce our "Canine Therapy & Peer Support Program," aimed at promoting the physical, mental, and emotional well-being of our members. This program is designed to address the growing concern about behavioral health issues and their impact on wellness, particularly among firefighters, paramedics, and EMTs.
Firefighter PTSD and stress are significant issues that can have a detrimental impact on the mental health and well-being of first responders. The SVFD has implemented several changes and strategies to address these issues, including resiliency training, medical screenings, physical fitness, and nutritional education. In addition, the SVFD has partnered with a local organization called First Responder Therapy Dogs, who regularly visit our stations and staff with animals specially trained in therapy. The positive benefits of these visits have been palpable, with staff reporting an immediate positive reaction to the therapy dogs.
To leverage what we have learned and continue to provide for our staff, the SVFD has partnered with Paws for Life K9 Rescue, who provided a certified Therapy Dog named Koda, training and certification for the handler, and initial equipment and supplies to begin the program. They have also committed to providing for Koda’s nutritional requirements and ongoing support for some veterinary care and required follow-up training. Additional information and success stories are discussed later in this document.
Koda's handler is Trevor Smith, the Fire Marshal with the Sonoma Valley Fire District. As Fire Marshal, he has a unique opportunity and assignment that provides him with the flexibility to make the program successful. He is available to regularly visit staff at any workstation within the organization's six staffed fire stations and is also available on a twenty-four-hour basis to provide therapeutic support to the membership and community during critical needs. The goal of the Canine Therapy & Peer Support Program is to provide readily accessible support to SVFD members experiencing career-related stress and improve their quality of life throughout their careers and into retirement.
The Sonoma Valley Fire District is thankful for the donation, training, certification, veterinary care, grooming care, and ongoing support from our partners; Paws for LifeK9 Rescue, The Gary Sinise Foundation, Sonoma Veterinary Clinic, and Groomingdales Pet Grooming & Spa. The generous support we have received guarantees the success and ongoing funding of this program.
This program made possible through the donations and support of: