DELTA COUNTY, Mich. (WJMN) – Two non-profit organizations in Delta County are teaming up to help those who have suffered traumatic experiences.
Canines for Comfort and the Delta Animal Shelter are collaborating on a new initiative called the Remarkable Rescue Dogs Project. The mission of the project is to recruit homeless dogs from the shelter, and train them to be put into facilities where they can help serve vulnerable populations.
“What it looks like right now is that when the Delta Animal Shelter has a dog that they feel is well tempered and is capable of becoming a working dog,” said Sarah Sorensen, founder of Canines for Comfort. “They get ahold of us, and then we come, and we look at the dog and then if it’s a good fit, we take in the dog. Then we will be doing training, both obedience, just that more basic training, and then we are also doing on the job training. And then after a dog is ready, they are going to be placed with whether an agency or organization that works with people who have traumatic experiences.”
The Remarkable Rescue Dogs Project is inspired by the story of an Australian Sheperd named Blue. Blue was 12 weeks old when she was rescued from a Delta County puppy mill in August 2020. Sorensen fostered and then adopted Blue from the Delta Animal Shelter. Blue now works alongside Sorensen at the Delta Regional Child Advocacy Center.
“That kind of was like, a lot. It was an undertaking; we were all heavily involved,” said Vonnie Bruce, adoption specialist for the Delta Animal Shelter. “It’s definitely a highlight of my career being in the animal welfare industry. But I think outside of the puppy mill, I think a lot of dogs come from really horrible situations that we get here at the shelter, so I think it’s going to be really cool to kind of see dogs who have also come from other bad situations. They could even be similar situations to the situations that these kids are coming from, and then they are kind of able to come together and bond on that level is super cool.”
“Blue just started being in the actual forensic interview room with a child as they are talking through and about some assaults that have happened to them,” said Sorensen. “With that, we have heard so much positive feedback from the families, from the children, from other partners who are involved in the investigation. So, we are very excited to help bring on more dogs that are going to be able to make even more of an impact.”
Remarkable Rescue Dogs Project’s first recruit is Opal, a two-and-a-half-year-old standard poodle. Opal was adopted from the Delta Animal Shelter earlier this year specifically for this project. Canines for Comfort board member Veronica Williams is currently fostering Opal while she goes through training. Once training is complete, Opal will be placed with a new handler and place of employment.
“I think she would do really good in a school setting, just from her personality that’s what I think so far,” said Williams. “She loves everybody, she loves to meet new people. Every time we have a meeting and if she’s there, she goes up to every single person before she can like lay down and chill out. She’s definitely very social so I think somewhere with a lot of people would be great for her.”
If you live in the Upper Peninsula or the northern Lower Peninsula of Michigan and you want a Remarkable Rescue Dog to work in your facility, you can apply online at caninesforcomfort.org/apply.