Fire Station In Tampa Bay Area Gets First Mental Health Dog

MANATEE COUNTY, Fla. (CW44 News At 10) – A local fire station has its own mental health therapy dog. He is the first designated therapy dog ​​for firefighters in the Tampa Bay Area.

At the North River Fire District, a new mental health dog named Drew, right here, is changing the entire morale of the station, with officials saying he’s helping firefighters after they respond to traumatic calls.

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“We see almost everyone on their worst days, so we try to do our best and be professional. Drew comes back and is human again,” Firefighter Michael Davila said.

We all know the saying “Man’s best friend…” but what about a lifeguard’s best friend?

“He will come and run to you, give you a good lick and you can pet him, he is always happy to see you,” Davila said.

For the firefighters of the North River Fire District, this little golden retriever named Drew is their best friend.

“You walk into a room and he makes you smile. He is very happy, he is very well behaved,” said another firefighter, Matt Stone.

Drew was turned over to the North River Fire District six weeks ago by a local organization called Southeastern Guide Dogs, which also has a therapy dog ​​program. Since then, Deputy Fire Chief Joe Sicking says Drew has made a big difference.

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“It can be very stressful at times and I have seen the place flip and the behavior in the office and the general attitudes. It’s an incredible thing to see,” Sicking said.

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Drew is the first dog in the Tampa Bay area to become a therapy dog ​​for a fire department.

“He travels with battalion chiefs, he visits fire stations, he visits crews after traumatic incidents happen,” Sicking said.

Stone says that he thinks every fire station needs a dog like Drew.

“Firefighter suicides are a really scary thing and I think if something like Draw or, we also have other resources, we can get there, but the simplest thing is a dog,” Stone said.

For many firefighters, like Davila, Drew has become more than just a therapy dog.

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“We depend a lot on who we work with, we are like a big family,” Dávila said.

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