Insp. Dean LaGrange of Red Deer RCMP and Mayor Tara Veer with the new Victim Service’s therapy dog, Harley. He was paid for by a Notre Dame High School student fundraiser. (Photo by LANA MICHELIN/Advocate staff).

WATCH: Red Deer Victims’ Services welcomes a new therapy dog

Harley will help calm victims of crime

Red Deer Victims’ Services introduced a chill new therapy dog to the city Thursday.

Harley the Labrador retriever couldn’t be rattled, despite all the cameras and crowds gathered on the second floor of City Hall for a welcome session with police and the mayor.

Insp. Dean LaGrange joked announcing Harley’s arrival “could be the most exciting media event that the RCMP will have this year.”

Yet, the black pooch stayed as calm as you would expect of a dog who will be helping children and other victims of crime, cope with the high emotions that can come with navigating the criminal justice system.

LaGrange said he knows from working with the Calgary Police Service what a great resource therapy dogs are for crime victims who feel anxious about being interviewed by police, or nervous at testifying in court.

The two-year-old dog certainly made a positive impression with several city councillors and Red Deer Mayor Tara Veer, who presented him with new tags at no charge, in deference to Harley’s pending service to the city.

Handler Susan Bontje, who works with the RCMP’s Victims’ Services Unit, said Harley’s laid-back personality and sense of empathy make him a natural therapy dog.

He was initially trained to become a seeing-eye dog for the blind, but couldn’t cut it, since he didn’t like pushing doors open with his nose. His good nature made him a shoe-in as a therapy dog, however, so he was retrained to assist crime victims. Bontje said she feels lucky Harley gets to sleep at her house.

Although he only started his service in Red Deer Monday, Harley has already accompanied two children to court this week, and sat through a test interview session at the Children’s Advocacy Centre. Bontje feels he handled himself calmly and professionally.

Red Deer’s mayor and police representatives thanked everyone who made it possible for Michigan-born Harley to move to this city for work – primarily the 2017 graduating class at Notre Dame High School, which raised $38,000 towards the cost of the trained dog, and for his future maintenance.

The dog was being taken to the school later Thursday to practice soothing people during a mock disaster.

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

More than $25k raised for Red Deer firefighter who is recovering in hospital

‘I think the support he’s getting is because of the person he is’

Lacombe backs Blackfalds stormwater plan

Stormwater management plan will open up more land for development in Blackfalds

Two men facing charges in alleged abduction

RCMP issued alert for woman on Wednesday morning who was found safe later that day

Red Deer RCMP seek public assistance to identify suspect in indecent acts

Red Deer RCMP are looking for a man believed to be responsible… Continue reading

WATCH: Two weeks away from Canadian Finals Rodeo in Red Deer

In just two weeks, Ponoka’s Shayna Weir will compete with the best… Continue reading

Edmonton girl guide sells out of cookies in front of cannabis store on first day

EDMONTON — She’s being called one smart cookie. As people lined up… Continue reading

New vacuum needed: Calgary family adopts three bonded St. Bernard buddies

EDMONTON — Three adult St. Bernards who couldn’t be separated because they’re… Continue reading

Film with Fan Bingbing, Bruce Willis cancelled after tax case

BEIJING — The director of “Air Strike,” featuring Chinese actress Fan Bingbing,… Continue reading

Michael Buble shuts down rumours of retirement from music

LOS ANGELES — Michael Buble is shutting down rumours that he’s going… Continue reading

After Canada legalizes pot, industry eyes rest of the world

MONTREAL — Cam Battley is a top executive at one of Canada’s… Continue reading

Facebook’s election ‘war room’ takes aim at fake information

MENLO PARK, Calif. — In an otherwise innocuous part of Facebook’s expansive… Continue reading

Military to overhaul morale-boosting trips after review finds serious problems

OTTAWA — Canada’s top general is overhauling military morale-boosting tours after an… Continue reading

Police hand out a few hefty fines for allegedly violating Cannabis Act

The celebratory mood that marked the legalization of recreational cannabis lost a… Continue reading

Most Read