The Santa Rosa Fire Department (SRFD) has taken the next step to improve the well-being of first responders with the addition of a special new team member. Meet Maverick, SRFD’s first Partner Service Dog, an 18-month-old Labrador Golden Retriever mix, trained to perform tasks that help strengthen the mental health and overall wellbeing of our first responders.
Maverick was trained by the National Institute of Canine Science and Training – First Response K-9 Agency Team Dog Program. The Program is designed to help improve the psychological well-being of first responders by providing staff with an outlet from mental, physical, or psychological effects of cumulative and short-term trauma. Additionally, they can provide support to victims by greatly reducing short-term anxiety, and temporarily reducing psychological effects of experienced trauma.
The Santa Rosa Fire Foundation funded this amazing program with the goal of providing direct support to our first responders who serve our city every day. “Maverick is here to help firefighters, not only with the daily stressors, but with all the traumatic incidents that they experience. Those parts of humanity that we really hope the community does not have to see, our firefighters do,” explains Santa Rosa Fire Captain, Cori Rickert.
Before Maverick works with first responders full-time, he is completing a six-month training and bonding process with his handler, Fire Captain Rickert. The two will live and attend work together. After the bonding process is complete, Rickert and Maverick will be evaluated by the program to ensure they meet the goals to graduate. After graduation, the future is bright for Maverick, and he will regularly visit fire station crews with his shift partner. Maverick will also be available to attend SRFD peer support gatherings after critical incidents and Maverick will occasionally attend community outreach events.
Maverick will hopefully be the first of many service dogs to support Santa Rosa first responders. SRFD is expecting another Partner Service Dog from its Wellness Team within the next six months.
For additional information on the National Institute of Canine Science and Training – First Response K-9 Agency Team Dog Program, visit https://ourdogssavelives.org/programs/first-response-k9/