Here is the text of a circular that recently went out to the branches regarding service dogs and, more specifically, Vancouver Island Compassion Dogs:

Since 2014, the BC/Yukon Legion Command has been supporting the growth of Vancouver Island Compassion Dogs (VICD) through the BC/Yukon Command of the Royal Canadian Legion Foundation. Since its inception, VICD has trained and paired 36 dogs with veterans.

As of January 1, 2019 VICD became a division of BC Guide Dogs. This will allow VICD to significantly expand their operations. VICD will now be able to graduate 24 Canadian Military and RCMP veterans through their 52-week peer-support program pairing them with a PTSD service dog, every year. Starting this year, twelve veterans will receive dogs on Vancouver Island, and an additional 12 veterans will receive PTSD service dogs from the training facility in Delta.

Why does the BC/Yukon Legion Foundation choose to work with VICD?

With an abundance of companies providing guide animals, service animals, or therapy animals, we owe it to our veterans to set the highest possible standards for a service dog partner.

There are a number of ways where Vancouver Island Compassion Dogs (VICD) goes above and beyond in their service to veterans:

Accreditation

VICD is accredited with Assistance Dogs International (ADI). We believe this accreditation ensures that dogs are treated humanely, clients are treated with dignity and respect, and training is delivered in a professional manner. It is an internationally recognized program, so that ADI certified dogs can be taken to other countries.

Areas that are evaluated under ADI include:

• Safety and cleanliness of the training facility
• Fair and ethical treatment of clients
• Proper health care for the dogs
• Humane training methods for the dogs
• Criteria for screening suitability of both dogs and clients
• Criteria for matching dogs and clients
• Criteria for administration of all program operations
• Compliance with all legal regulations.

Service Delivery Model

VICD employs a wide spectrum mental health services approach. They have a practicing clinician on staff with over 14 years’ experience specializing in trauma and addictions. Their trainers undergo a 2-year trauma informed Post Traumatic Stress Instructor apprenticeship, specifically dealing with how to interact with people with PTSD. As part of their program, veterans are matched with an already trained VICD dog to form a team, and they participate in twice-weekly training sessions for a year. This is conducted by professional trainers and their clinician. The program also includes 6 follow up sessions a year for eight additional years to ensure the veteran/dog team are working together effectively. The model represents a ten-year commitment to the mental health of a veteran.

How can you give to support veterans through VICD?

There are three ways to give:

1. Donate using your poppy funds to the BC/Yukon Command of the Royal Canadian Legion Foundation earmarked for VICD.

2. Branches remain eligible to donate directly from their BC Gaming Fund to VICD.

3. You can create a fundraising campaign in your branch and donate directly through your branches general fund to VICD.

Where do the funds go?

A separate account has been designated specifically for the work of VICD. As stated by Mike Annan, Executive Director of Vancouver Island Compassion Dogs, “The funds will be accounted for and expended judiciously solely for the purpose of supporting the veterans.”

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