MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) – The Family Sunshine Center has a new member on their staff, and she is wagging with excitement.
Meet Louisa or “LuLu”! The treatment center’s new trauma therapy dog.
The fluffy 2-year-old labradoodle mix was chosen by Service Dogs of Alabama to work at FSC’s counseling centers and shelters to help reduce stress, anxiety, and depression in victims or survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, human trafficking and more.
“She’s a facility dog which means that she’s able to work with multiple handlers which is really convenient with being here with multiple therapists or staff,” said Louisa’s secondary handler Ilia Snell.
“She’s able to sense anxiety or stress with either clients or staff, and then she goes to them and provides comfort and love,” said primary handler and Executive Director Tay Knight.
It’s a comfort that is needed as the treatment center reports seeing an increase in clients.
“Many of the clients that we see that are children are suffering from sexual assault,” Knight said.
“We do have our human trafficking center which is still in its infancy. We’re still pretty new, but we’ve seen an influx with that,” Snell said.
Louisa’s handlers say she has already helped victims open up about issues impacting them physically and emotionally.
“Louisa had been here a couple days, and she already had a couple of secrets that had been told to her by very young children who were not comfortable talking to their therapist yet,” Knight said.
The new furry friend will help make the agency a calmer and inviting place for victims and survivors, and increase overall staff morale.
“I mean when you see a dog running down the hallway, it’s usually a happy feeling,” Snell said with a smile.
Facility dogs work in a variety of settings ranging from schools to agencies where stress is prevalent daily, such as courtroom interviews, police departments and facilities such as the Family Sunshine Center.
Louisa has been at the center for a little over a month. When she is off the clock, she goes home to either of her two handlers where she enjoys spending time playing and relaxing.
The center’s services are offered at no cost to the victim/survivor. Service sites are located in Autauga, Butler, Chilton, Crenshaw, Elmore, Lowndes and Montgomery counties.
If you or someone you know needs help, the center’s 24-hour Hotline Number is 334-263-0218.
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