B.C. trauma dog among those help­ing Las Ve­gas vic­tims, first re­spon­ders

24 Hours Vancouver - - NEWS - GOR­DON MCINTYRE

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.

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