Prince Albert-based facility dog to support central and northern Sask. trauma victims

Quinn is the Gateway Regional Victim Services (GRVS) new facility dog. The two-year-old labrador and golden retriever mix will support crime victims testifying in court, attend the scene of a crisis and make visits to hospitals and schools. (Saskatchewan Health Authority/Submitted)

“It’s a big job, but not too big for a dog with an even bigger heart.”

– Doreen Slessor, Dogs with Wings Assistance Dog Society

A newly trained facility dog will be supporting people in central and northern Saskatchewan who have been affected by crime or traumatic events.

Quinn is a two-year-old labrador and golden retriever mix who was trained by the Dogs with Wings Assistance Dog Society.

With the help of a three-year agreement with the Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA), Quinn is joining the Gateway Regional Victim Service’s (GRVS) team based in Prince Albert.

Quinn will be living with Jillian Doucet, a GRVS certified handler.

“Our facility dog, Quinn, has been trained to help ease the effects of trauma that victims of crime and tragedy experience,” said GRVS Coordinator Carol Wittal in a news release.

SHA Chief Operating Officer Suann Laurent said the Humboldt Broncos bus crash in April of 2018 showed the need for support services.

Sixteen people died and 13 were injured in the crash. Since then, survivors, their loved ones and first responders have spoken out about how the tragedy both physically and mentally impacted them.

“(It) demonstrated the importance of having a variety of supports available for people involved in a traumatic event. This includes those directly involved in the event, family members, friends, and the entire community,” said Laurent.

She said Quinn will support the most vulnerable people, including child abuse victims, domestic violence victims, sexual assault victims or seniors who are victims of an illegal home entry.

He will assist throughout the various stages of trauma, including at the scene of a tragic event or crisis and in court when a victim is testifying. Quinn will also be supporting RCMP and Victim Services staff and going to schools, hospitals and community events.

According to the Dogs with Wings Assistance Dog Society, Quinn was born in Burnaby, B.C.

When he was a puppy, Quinn captured the hearts of Edmonton’s Cappell family, who recently lost their father and made a memorial donation.

This donation sponsored Quinn to go through the Dogs with Wings program.

He lived with a volunteer foster family and took weekly classes, learned obedience and explored public places with his foster family and trainer.

He then moved on to advanced classes at a year old, living with a different foster family.

Quinn and Doucet took their team training at the end of August, which consisted of seven 12 hour days.

“He is the perfect fit for the work ahead of him helping to comfort and support those most in need. It’s a big job, but not too big for a dog with an even bigger heart,” said Doreen Slessor, Executive Director of the Dogs with Wings Assistance Dog Society.

According to the news release, Quinn and Doucet will travel throughout central and northern Saskatchewan with the support of the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League and Capital GMC.

Capital GMC is supplying them with a Buick Envision SUV.

GRVC is funded by the Ministry of Justice. It covers RCMP detachments in Prince Albert, Shellbrook, Rosthern, Big River, Blaine Lake, Green Lake, Loon Lake, Meadow Lake, Pierceland, Spiritwood, Wakaw and 17 First Nations communities.