Local nonprofit Roxy Therapy Dogs recently organized a formalized group of specially trained volunteer therapy dogs and their owner/handlers called Roxy Responders.
Specializing in on-call trauma response, the group was created to bring comfort to children and youth experiencing upsetting reactions to traumatic events.
The initiative is the brainchild of Sharon Fleck, president of Roxy Therapy Dogs, who felt a call to action in the spring of 2021 after a local student was killed in a car accident on prom night.
Roxy teams were at the school in the days following and through graduation day to provide comfort, calm, and compassion to both students and staff as they navigated the mixed emotions of mourning the loss of a peer and looking forward to graduation that week.
“After seeing the devastation in our school community firsthand following the tragic loss of a student, I became acutely aware that we as an organization need to be able to do more for our community during events which feel unbearable to our kids,” said Fleck.
Roxy Therapy Dogs provides specialized training to the Responders through the Bucks County Intermediate Unit, NOVA, and a local veterinary behaviorist including classes on Trauma 101, Compassion Fatigue, How Trauma Affects Children and Recognizing Signs of Canine Stress. Roxy Responders are available to all school districts or organizations that serve children in Bucks County as well as those within 20 miles of Doylestown.