About the K-9 Initiative
The Florida Firefighters Health and Safety Collaborative K-9 Peer Support Initiative, was started to offer First Responders a certified, organized and structured response, from a cadre of well-trained K-9 Response Teams. The team will provide Animal Assisted Crisis Response (AACR) consisting of a Certified Handler and a trained registered Certified Therapy Dog
Training and Service Levels | How to Become a Team Member
To reduce stress, anxiety and suicide ideation experienced by First Responders, by mitigating the effects of trauma, tragedy and loss, so they can better take care of themselves and resume their mission to be of service to others.
- Type 1 Handler: Both CISM and one of the peer support certifications, 2-hour self-care training, K9 first aid and CPR
- Type 2 Handler: One peer support certification, National Certified Registered Therapy Dog certification, completion of AACR course. These are the minimum for a team to be considered Type 2. (Type 2 Handlers can respond to State-wide incidents with approval from the State Coordinator or designee and working in tandem mentored by a Type 1 Handler)
Type 1 handlers will be utilized first for call outs and deployments.
To Community of First Responders:
- Organized, certified, and trained local response
- Organized, certified, and trained State-wide response
To K9 Response Teams:
- Assistance if needed in the expediting of securing a K-9 from an animal rescue provider
- In person or virtual instructor-led training and evaluation to certify as a member of the FFHSC Response Canine Team
- Assistance in acquisition of required yearly Self-Care Training
- Leadership guidance and organization to requested State-wide Emergency Responses
Response Canine Teams will provide comfort, stress relief, emotional support, and crisis intervention as part of a Peer Support group response, or for an individual affected by a crisis or disaster. Secondarily, Response Canine Teams Members, will be able to provide resources to those affected by chronic or acute stress, by referring contacts to appropriate advance caregivers vetted by FFHSC.
Training and Service Levels
There are two levels of FFHSC K-9 Handlers:
- Type 1 Handler: Can respond upon request to local incidents with their respective Department’s Peer Support Team, both to group or one on one interventions. They are also State-wide incident deployable with Peer Support Teams. NOTE: All Type 1 Handlers must have an approved Group Peer Response certification.
- Type 2 Handler: Can respond to local incident with their respective Department’s Peer Support Team, both to group or one on one interventions. (Type 2 Handlers can respond to State-wide incidents with approval from the State Coordinator or designee and working in tandem mentored by a Type 1 Handler
Registering for the FFHSC Response K-9 Training will require proof of completion of the following prerequisite certifications for both Type 1 and Type 2 Handlers.
Peer Support Certification Accepted: (One or more from the following certifications)
- ICISF C.I.S.M Group and Individual Peer Response Class
- E.A.C.T. training offered by UCF Restores Program
- A.F.F. Peer Support model
- NSU Peer Support model
- Illinois Peer Support model
- North Carolina Peer Support model
One or more of the following 2-hour minimum Selfcare Class:
- Mental Health First Aid for First Responders
- Boulder Crest “Struggle Well” class
- An equivalent selfcare class (confirm before taking a different class)
The following class from a certified instructor:
- K-9 First Aid and CPR Class
How Do I Become A Team Member?
- Review the complete list of prerequisite requirements for K-9 Handlers and K-9s to register for the FFHSC Response K-9 Training.
- Contact State Coordinator or designee to apply for registration or with any questions pertaining application process or prerequisite requirements
- Register for next available training
What if I do not have a K-9?
K-9s selected for this type of service must meet a temperamental test performed by the Dog Breeder, Animal Services or Animal Rescue programs if adopted. The dog must be subsequently Therapy Dog trained and the trainer you select will do a secondary temperamental test. Therapy dogs are not breed specific or size specific. The temperamental test is considered the best marker for choosing a suitable canine. We may be able to assist you to expedite if adopting from a rescue.
What if I already have a K-9 but it is not trained?
The Therapy Dog trainer you choose will advise if your canine is suitable for Certified Registered Therapy Dog training.
What if my dog is already therapy dog trained?
If your K-9 is already a Registered Certified Therapy Dog or when it does become certified in the future, you must submit proof of a training certificate with your registration for the FFHSC Response Canine Class and the Therapy Dog training agency must provide liability insurance coverage with their annual membership.