Earlier this year Victim Services Toronto (VST) proudly launched Toronto’s first trauma dog program to help victims in the immediate aftermath of crime or tragedy.
While the trauma dog will be available to assist victims of all ages, the primary focus of the program will be helping children. Annually, of the 20,000 people Victim Services Toronto works with, more than 7,000 are children.
To support the trauma dog program, organizers of the Bang and Olufsen 5-km Yorkville Run graciously invited Victim Services Toronto to be one of their select charities in their annual event. The B&O Yorkville Run is an annual premier road race that unites both international and local runners as well as businesses to raise funds for local charities including YWCA Toronto women's shelters, Mount Sinai Hospital, Prostate Cancer Canada and Jesse Ketchum Public School.
“We couldn’t be more excited to be a recipient charity this year for the Yorkville B&O Run to support the Victim Services Toronto Trauma Dog Program," said VST Associate Director Bobbie McMurrich. “Our Trauma Dog-in-Training, Dandy, is an exuberant 11-month-old Yellow Labrador Retriever who loves people, especially children. We rely on fundraising and donations to help pay for Dandy’s upkeep and training. Not only did the Yorkville B&O Run raise an incredible $37,000 it also raised awareness of the Victim Services Toronto Trauma Dog Program. Dandy has one more year of intensive training before she will become part of our crisis response for victims of crime and sudden tragedies, children in particular. Thanks to the Yorkville B&O Run we will be able to continue the development of this innovative, new program.”
The sixth Annual B&O Yorkville Run took place on Sunday, September 13, 2015 with 1,000 entrants. A number of VST staffers took part as did officers from across the Service. The total raised for all charities was over $250,000.
“When I was asked to do this run for Victim Services Toronto, I said yes right away," said Training & Education Constable Laurie McCann. “What an amazing experience to run the streets of Toronto with fellow officers and Victim services staff. The work Victim services does with our community is beyond words. I am involved with victim services on many levels but one is the weekly twitter chat called #TEARTalk. The work Victim Services Toronto does with youth online is fantastic.”
Superintendent Heinz Kuck, unit commander of 11 Division, and a long time and ardent supporter of Victim Services Toronto, also supported the event, running alongside Dandy.
“One of the amazing components of the run was that Dandy, not only being a focal point in our fundraising efforts, actually joined in the event, and ran the race herself. From start to finish she kept up a great pace, and enjoyed meeting so many other runners along the way. She is a fantastic ambassador for VST, and by the way… an excellent running partner,” Kuck said.