CABER AND OTHER K9S HELPING OUT IN NEVADA
B.C. trauma dog among those helping Las Vegas victims, first responders
It was an incomprehensible tragedy and Caber, a nine-year-old yellow Labrador retriever, has some serious work to do. But Vegas is still Vegas.
Caber and his handler Kim Gramlich of the Delta Police Department are one of a handful of K9 teams invited to Las Vegas to help victims, their families and first responders deal with their trauma and grief after the Route 91 Harvest massacre in which 59 people were killed and more than 500 injured on Oct. 1.
The pair was met at the airport by a limo driver.
“We had a bit of a chuckle,” Gramlich said on Tuesday, five days after the Delta police force duo arrived in Nevada. “We’ve been in a few limos since we’ve been here.”
BLS Limo, a worldwide limousine service, has donated the rides, while MGM Resorts has put up out-of-town volunteers such as Gramlich and Caber in its rooms.
The two are staying at the pet-friendly Vdara, just off the Las Vegas strip.
Amenities include a small doggie park, a personalized gift bag for Caber and doggie room service.
The menu includes: Fetch of the Day (seared filet with sweet potatoes, green beans and yellow squash, US$17 for a medium plate); Chicken à la Coop (hormone-free baked chicken and whole grain brown rice, US$14); and the Rollover (chicken and beef sautéed with fresh veggies and orzo pasta, US$15).
Caber has his own special diet and did not order in.
“It is Vegas, after all,” Gramlich said. “We’re getting the royal treatment. But we’re more used to, for example, staying in a work camp at Fort McMurray.”
Caber, an accredited assistance dog, was the first trauma K9 in a victim services setting in Canada seven years ago, according to Delta police. He helps traumatized victims and witnesses calm down and defuse raw emotions.
Today, there are 30 such dogs in Canada (five in B.C. in total), compared to 145 in the United States.
“And just like not everyone has the disposition to be a police officer, not all dogs are capable of being police dogs,” Gramlich, an awardwinning victim services worker, said.
“These dogs are the gold standard. They are highly resilient when exposed to a stressful environment and a lot of emotion. They are highly trained. When sirens are going off or there is wailing and crying, they are nonreactive.”
Caber, trained by the Pacific Assistance Dog Society, has greeted people at the family assistance centre at the Las Vegas Convention Centre and hospitals, getting petted and snuggled with.
“There has been a tremendous amount of loss and a high degree of trauma,” Gramlich said. “This is where the dogs do their best to help.” –With files from Stephanie Ip
Caber, right, a B.C.-based therapy dog, is among several from across North America that have made the trip down to Las Vegas, Nev., in October to visit with first responders and victims. The dogs were in response to the mass shooting that took place the evening of Sunday, Oct. 1 at Route 91 Harvest country music festival.