Comfort and emotional support dogs are used in Canada and the United States to help victims of violent crimes, accidents, and terrorist attacks.
Most people would agree that animals can provide precious comfort when times are tough. Unfailingly benevolent companions and confidantes, pets and other animals enable people to express feelings that they may be unable to share with other persons, especially strangers or authority figures. That’s why, when it comes to traumatic circumstances, animals can make a big difference.
In North America, comfort or emotional support dogs are being used to help both children and adults. They are increasingly included in the various assistance measures offered to people who have been mugged, involved in an accident, or have been victims of violent events. In Canada, successful initiatives are convincing local police forces to integrate support dogs into their victim-assistance teams. Two dogs trained at the Mira Foundation, an organization similar to France’s Handi’Chiens, have been incorporated into Quebec’s department of criminal investigations to provide support for children who have been victims of sexual aggressions or abuse.
In the United States, the Courthouse Dogs Foundation has been teaching both legal professionals and the general public about the benefits of comfort or “facility” dogs for over fifteen years. Courthouse Dogs provides funding for service dog training as well as research on the subject. Other American organizations focus on emergency interventions with dogs. For example, K9 Comfort Dogs sent person-dog teams all over the country to help survivors and families of people killed in the June 2016 shootings in Orlando.