Airdrie facility support dog Jake and his handler Deborah Reid have been nominated for an Alberta Community Justice Award for their contributions toward supporting victims and preserving justice in the community.
The five-year old purebred, black Labrador has been working for Airdrie & District Victims Assistance Society (ADVAS) and the Airdrie RCMP detachment since November 2019. Reid, a trauma dog handler and court coordinator, is responsible for monitoring court proceedings, preparing victims and accompanying them to court, which is where Jake steps in.
“If we have somebody that’s requesting to have a court aid, Jake can accompany them to court,” she said. “He can go right up on the stand with them and help them testify. He has had specified training [and] he’s very calm.”
The black Lab has been bred and trained for the purpose of working as a facility support dog by the Lions Foundation of Canada Dog Guides. To date, Jake has worked on 47 court files, according to Reid, including meetings and court attendance. He has supported 89 victims, including children, youth and adults.
"We use him to provide comfort and support to children and adults during statements and to build rapport and bond with a person," Reid said in a City of Airdrie press release. "Jake is also present for meetings with myself, RCMP and Crown Prosecutors where we prepare victims for testifying in court."
Since joining the team in 2019, Jake has been actively involved in the community and has been embraced by his coworkers and colleagues, according to Reid. The award nomination serves to acknowledge the contributions made by Jake and Reid to community members and colleagues.
The official ceremony honouring award recipient will be held virtually later this month in order to comply with public health restrictions, with an exact date yet to be announced.
In a press release from the City of Airdrie, Mayor Peter Brown said Reid and Jake provide the city’s victims of crime the opportunity to be supported “in a very special way.”
"Assistance dogs, like Jake, add a whole new dimension when it comes to supporting some of our most vulnerable community members,” he said in the release. “It is difficult to quantify the overall impact Jake has had in our community."
Reid said that news of the award nomination took her by surprise, but she is thrilled to see Jake recognized for his hard work.
“I see every day the value of what [Jake] does,” she said. “I can’t even begin to say how appreciative people are when they have to use him, so I sort of take for granted what he does.
“But then to have the mayor’s office recognize the job he has done, it’s such a huge compliment and acknowledgement of how incredible working dogs are and especially Jake himself.”
While Jake is available 24/7 to serve as a trauma dog, when he is off-duty, he’s just a regular dog, according to Reid, and also a key member of her family.
“He does come home with me in the evenings and he lives with myself and my family, so he sort of has two roles,” she said. “He has his work and he knows when he’s working and then when he’s not working, he’s just our regular dog.”
She added that when he’s off-duty, he goes on plenty of walks at the local off-leash parks, and even goes on vacations with Reid’s family. But when he is out in the community in a working capacity, he’s got his support dog vest on and is able to distinguish between his responsibilities and play time.
As part of Jake’s ongoing training, she said that it is important to keep him accustomed to public outings, and so far, he has been very well received in the community. According to Reid, Jake has never been refused access to any store or restaurant.
As part of his community involvement, Reid said there are ongoing plans to do a dog walk in the fall, COVID-19 restrictions permitting.
If you would like to stay up-to-date on all things Jake, check out his Facebook and Instagram pages at Team Jake.
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