LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — Los Angeles County firefighters will receive two fully trained peer support/comfort dogs Tuesday to launch a new Peer Support K9 Program.
The dogs, Milo and Echo, were specially selected and completed hundreds of hours of intense specialized training to support firefighters with PTSD or high levels of anxiety in a variety of situations and settings.
Echo, a three-year-old yellow Labrador Retriever, was recently deployed to the Bobcat Fire where she provided support for over 500 firefighters who had been deployed for weeks.
The dogs will assist in identifying individuals experiencing increased levels of stress and are trained to then comfort those individuals.
The two dogs are the first in a new Peer Support K9 Program in the Los Angeles County Fire Department. Thor’s Hope Foundation have worked together with Performance K9 Training, Inc. and the Patriotic Service Dog Foundation to launch the program.
Both dogs have already been deployed to assist firefighters and first responders on the recent Bobcat Fire, where crews were facing one of the largest wildfires in L.A. County’s history which lasted over one month.
The addition of peer support dogs will help first responders manage stress and anxiety during large-scale incidents and extended deployments.
The launch of the Peer Support K9 Program is the latest addition to L.A. County’s peer support program, which includes over 130 trained peers.