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Posted: August 3, 2017

RCMP Victim Services ranks grows by four paws

Jessica Robertson and West

The Cranbrook/ Kimberley RCMP Victim Services in conjunction with Summit Community Services has added a new employee to the section and he works for kibble and hugs.

West, a three-year old black lab who hails from the Pacific Assistance Dogs (PADS) Program (pads.ca), has joined the local RCMP Victim Services a program of Summit Community Services. He is an important addition to the assistance that Victim Services provides to area clients.

“West will be working alongside us, to help provide emotional support to people that have been through a trauma. He is eager to provide support to area victims/witnesses in handling the emotional stress that can arise when a person is required to testify,” stated Jessica Robertson of the Cranbrook/Kimberley RCMP Victim Services.

In February, Robertson attended the PADS campus in Burnaby and spent the week in training with West. West returned to Cranbrook with Jess where he has made himself well known amongst the detachment staff.

“He has been a great addition. We just got him in March this year and he’s done some amazing things thus far,” Robertson said during a brief introduction of West to local media this afternoon in Cranbrook’s Rotary Park.

Carla Schafer of Summit Community Services, Jessica Robertson, West and Sgt. Chris Newel.

She said along with time spent in court, her role and West’s with the RCMP are “24/7 on call. For any sort of assistance they need, such as if someone is experiencing trauma, West and I are called in, and it varies. It can be an accident, motor vehicle incidents; it can be a sudden death – anything like that. We also assist at the detachment during interviews.

“He’s a very comforting presence in such a traumatic time. We like to say dogs don’t judge people, so they don’t see age, race, colour, – they’re just there for all the right reasons.”

Robertson explained the dogs are fitted to the handler, meeting specific needs. As she works with both the Cranbrook and Kimberley RCMP detachments, and does women’s outreach work through Summit Services, “he need to be a fit with all of our programs.”

“The team will help support victims when they need it most, when they’re feeling anxious or scared and need a comforting presence. We are incredibly proud to welcome West and know he will be a trusted friend for people who are dealing with extremely difficult and emotionally challenging situations while their matters proceed through court,” said Sgt. Chris Newel, Kimberley RCMP Detachment commander.

“We’re very proud of both Jessie and West. They’re an exceptional team that has worked very hard to bring this program to the communities of Cranbrook and Kimberley. West has prepared for this role, and has a very special ability to meet people on their worst day, and support their road to healing,” said S/Sgt Hector Lee, Cranbrook RCMP Detachment commander.

West wasn’t too concerned about what was going on around him this afternoon. Ian Cobb/e-KNOW photos

– Ian Cobb/e-KNOW

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