Rescue Dogs Are Being Trained To Help First Responders With PTSD

A German Shepherd sits next to a police cruiser.

(Picture Credit: CTV News Ottawa)

Andrew Hammond, like many first responders, witnessed a lot of emotionally traumatic situations during his time as an Ottawa police officer. He found those experiences coming back to him in the form of anxiety attacks and flashbacks more and more frequently. He was suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and needed help. That’s where Ruby, a German Shepherd Dog, came in.

Ruby sits next to Hammond and gets a pet on the head.

(Picture Credit: CTV News Ottawa)

Ruby was a rescue dog trained by Debra Scharf. The pup helped Hammond get his life back on track. In fact, Hammond was inspired to create Centurion K9, a program that trains rescue dogs to become service dogs for officers with PTSD. After Hammond found that the normal waiting period for a service dog was over two years, he wanted to do something to help fellow officers who might be suffering like he was. 

A German Shepherd lies next to an officer trainer.

(Picture Credit: CTV News Ottawa)

The program is run by Scharf who first trained Ruby. She specifically picks the rescue dogs who she believes will be the best for the job. Right now there are four dogs in the program, but Hammond hopes the program will expand to help other first responders and people in the military. These dogs help people in the midst of PTSD by comforting them and drawing their focus. These dogs whose lives have been saved are saving lives in return.

Would you like to see more programs that help first responders get service dogs? How does your dog help you in your day-to-day life? Let us know in the comments below!

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