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Emotional Support Dogs On Duty In Surfside

Mental health dogs on site in Surfside to help first responders deal with extreme emotional toll

Local10.com, SURFSIDE, Fla. – Hundreds of first responders are working around the clock at the Surfside building collapse site, searching for more than 100 people who are still unaccounted for.

The emotional toll is extremely heavy and difficult to bear, and Miami-Dade Fire Rescue is turning to man’s best friend for help.

While you may be more familiar with seeing urban search and rescue dogs, MDFR has another team of K9s on a life-saving mission.

“These dogs are mental health dogs,” said Captain Shawn Campana, a 24-year veteran with Miami-Dade Fire Rescue.

Two of those Crisis Response Therapy Dogs are Charlie and Abby.

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Their job is to care for the mental health of first responders on the frontlines, part of a program started just five years ago by Capt. Campana.

“It’s even a new concept in the fire service to have dogs like this,” he said.

Surfside marks the first incident in the department’s history that their peer support K9 team is part of the command structure.

“I think there has been a shift in the culture for fire departments now, with a realization that we do get effected by things like this,” Campana said.

There have been 31 suicides in the department’s history to include retired and active duty.

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Campana was friends with six of them  … Click here to read more. 

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