Jake the facility service dog receives Community Justice Award
An Airdrie court trauma dog named Jake is being acknowledged for the important role he plays in comforting children, youth and adults who testify in court.
Jake has won Alberta’s Community Justice Award for innovation in 2021, an award given to individuals who have worked toward improving safety in their community.
Jake’s job is to help support vulnerable witnesses when it’s hard for them to speak. Jake has been working for two years now, and has assisted close to 100 people in court files.
“When witnesses come in to speak to our RCMP members, the dog can be in there just to make them feel less alone,” says Debbie Reid, a trauma dog handler and victim service provider. Jake is also a member of Reid’s family.
“He's two dogs. When he's working, he's the most calm, gentle dog that you could imagine. And then at home, he's just our pet. So, he likes to steal lettuce out of our vegetable garden.”
Jake is a 5-year-old purebred, black Labrador who joined the RCMP in 2019.
“He goes up on the witness stand with the person testifying. You see them reach down, and they'll pet him. So, he basically goes in as a testimonial aid.”
Jake was nominated by Airdrie RCMP and Mayor Peter Brown. The award acknowledges the extraordinary support Jake brings to the community.
Jake’s a very special dog, indeed. As a facility dog, Jake helps out most when he’s calm and relaxed. Because of this, Jake’s training is much different than other service or emotional support dogs.
“Calgary police [and] Edmonton police have facility dogs like this, but they're still very rare. I'd like to see more of them,” said Reid.
Reid hopes Jake can keep working for the next 5 years, supporting people in court when they need it.
The Airdrie RCMP hope Jake’s recognition brings awareness to the help dogs like this can provide.