Motivation and support can come in many forms, including a cold nose and warm heart, as the Dee Norton Child Advocacy Center, the region’s leading resource to help children heal from abuse and trauma, learned as they welcome their newest staff member, Poppy. The Canine Companions for Independence facility dog and her handler, therapist Bailey Jackson, will assist clients seen at the Center.
Initial funding to establish a facility dog program at the Center was provided by grant funding from The InterTech Group Foundation, which covered staff time and travel for interviews, a two-week handler training, and supplies necessary for her work at the Center. Canine Companions assistance dogs themselves are provided free of charge, though costs exceed $50,000 to breed, raise, train, and provide ongoing support. Charitable contributions, grants, special events, and corporate support fund the substantial costs involved with this process.
“Adding Poppy to our Center is going to help children on their path to healing,” says Dr. Carole Swiecicki, Dee Norton’s executive director and CEO. “Poppy encourages feelings of calm and comfort and can help children seen at the Center feel less daunted and more engaged in the evidence-based services we provide to help them heal from an abusive or traumatizing event. We are incredibly grateful to our partners at The InterTech Group for providing seed funding to start up our facility dog program, and to Canine Companions for raising and training this dog. We are so excited to welcome Poppy to our team.”
Canine Companions breeds, raises and expertly trains assistance dogs in commands designed to assist people with disabilities or to motivate and inspire clients with special needs. The process to become a facility dog includes more than two years of specialized training. Poppy can pull toy wagons, open and close doors and retrieve all kinds of items. She also has specific commands that allow her to interact with patients in a calm and appropriate manner.
“Poppy can tug open drawers and respond to 40 different commands,” says Bailey Jackson. “Most importantly Poppy provides unconditional love and attention to children who need it most.”
For over 40 years, Canine Companions has been enhancing the lives of people by training and placing more than 5,500 assistance dogs with program graduates, including more than 140 dogs with military veterans and more than 1,500 dogs with children.
The Dee Norton Child Advocacy Center has treated more than 26,000 Lowcountry children since opening in 1991. The Center’s level of care is so effective that more than 90 percent of children show no clinically significant trauma symptoms after treatment.
Editor's note - This is an unedited press release