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Santa Fe College holds crisis response dog training this weekend

Service Dog Mickey Wearing a Green HOPE-AACR Vest (Aileyahu Shanes/WUFT News)
Service Dog Mickey Wearing a Green HOPE-AACR Vest (Aileyahu Shanes/WUFT News)

The Institute of Public Safety at Santa Fe College is hosting crisis response dog training.

Training is presented by HOPE-Animal Assisted Crisis Response, an organization that has provided its services nationwide for free since 2001.

“Once a year we do a workshop,” said HOPE-AACR Florida area coordinator Terry Biehl, “where they [trainees and their dogs] come in and learn about mental health.”

Biehl says they also learn how to handle their dogs during a disaster and how to work with local and federal agencies.

The training focuses on many areas. These areas include “the nature of natural disasters, crisis intervention skills, animal behavior and stress management, the effects of stress on people, communicating effectively during crisis situations, and collaborating with emergency responders,” according to a press release from the IPS.

Trainees and their dogs must go through a rigorous application and screening process. Criteria include the canine being a therapy dog for at least a year and having at least 12 visits a year.

“Those dogs have to be seasoned in order to come and do this,” said Biehl.

Trainees came from all over the state.

Diana and Ray Haneski came from Broward County. They adopted their service dog, River, after surviving the Marjory Stoneman Douglas mass shooting in 2018.

“River works every day at the high school,” said Diana, a library media specialist at MSD. “She’s just a joy, and we feel, in the summer, and in the evenings and in the weekend, it’s good for her to go to other places and help others.”

The couple understands the importance of service dogs in times of struggle.

“We know the power the dogs have in helping people,” said Ray, a technology sports specialist at Westglades Middle School, situated right next to MSD.

Diana says all schools should have service dogs for their students to utilize.

Those attending the HOPE-AACR training come from many different emergency response organizations, including the American Red Cross.

Thomas Ackerman, IPS director, says the institute is “honored to host this important training.”

Training at the IPS will continue through Sunday.


Aileyahu is a reporter for WUFT News who can be reached by calling 352-392-6397 or emailing news@wuft.org.