A Victim Services dog will eventually be able to assist Red Deer victims, even attend court with them, thanks to fundraising efforts of École Secondaire Notre Dame High School students.
Students are working to raise between $30,000 and $50,000 for Red Deer RCMP Victim Services through the school’s service project led by the 2017 graduating class.
Student Isabella Schoettler said it was an easy fundraising decision for students when they learned how much Victim Services dogs can help.
“It can reach out to all different kinds of people no matter their tragedies. That really appealed to us,” Schoettler said on Monday at the Red Deer RCMP detachment where Victim Services hosted an appreciation event for students.
Students met Ringo, a Victim Services dog who works for Olds, Didsbury and Sundre detachments. Ringo has also helped Red Deer-area victims.
Students went on a tour of the detachment and could also get their photos taken while wearing RCMP red serge uniforms.
“We deeply appreciate everything that these students are doing. It’s amazing that they are spending their extra time on top of their own responsibilities to go out and raise these funds that they donate to charities every year,” said Const. Holly Erb, program manager with Victim Services.
She said dogs from other detachments are not always available when victims need them in Red Deer.
A dog will be leased from Dogs with Wings, of Edmonton, and money raised will go towards food, veterinarian care, dog grooming, specific training and other costs associated with the dog.
“We just have to wait to find the right dog to go with our handler,” Erb said.
Rhonda Kearns, program manager for Chinook Arch Victim’s Services and Ringo’s handler, said Ringo has made a huge difference for children who are scared to talk.
“Usually when Victim Services gets involved with someone it’s the worst time. Either a crime or tragedy has happened. When they look at Ringo they know they’re in a safe place,” Kearns said.
“He’s kind of that icebreaker, but also gives that non-verbal communication that you’re safe and you’re going to be OK.”