New EU project: Facility Dogs to support victims in Belgium, France and Italy

By February 2, 2021 March 18th, 2021 News, Top Story

VSE is proud to announce the start of a new EU funded project called ‘FYDO – Facility Dogs in Europe’.

Victims of crime are often subjected to stress, such as being interviewed at a police station, testifying in a courtroom or simply going to meet their support worker. All these experiences can negatively impact vulnerable victims. Research has documented that a dog’s presence can reduce one’s anxiety by promoting a feeling of safety and by providing contact-comfort, therefore reducing the risk of secondary victimisation.

To extend support for vulnerable victims, Victim Support Europe teamed up with Hachiko (BE), Canisha (BE), Dog4Life Onlus (IT), Handi’Chiens (FR), Viaduq67 (FR) and the University College of Cork (UCC) (IE), to launch the first multi-national effort in the EU to train and place facility dogs (FYDO) in Belgium, Italy and France. The effort is supported by the experts from the Courthouse Dogs Foundation – the global pioneers of facility dogs.

Ophelia, trained by Dog4Life Onlus to become a Facility Dog in Italy

FYDO dogs are not someone’s well behaved pets. They are working dogs – carefully selected and trained by specialist organisations, members of the Assistance Dogs International and Assistance Dogs Europe. Following a strict training programme which lasts about two years, FYDO dogs are handed over to specially trained handlers who work in specifically chosen locations to support vulnerable victims in their recovery.

In 2021 and 2022, FYDO partners will implement this ground-breaking project made possible with the funding of from the European Commission. The project will not only enable the training and placement of FYDO dogs in three countries, but will also make the FYDO service available to many vulnerable victims. Initially, our UCC partners will monitor the project to ensure we can use the lessons learned to create strong foundations for an EU-wide FYDO initiative, thus making FYDO dogs available to all vulnerable victims who might need their furry support.

Orphée, the second French FYDO dog handled by Viaduq67, visiting a courthouse for the first time

Meet our project partners:

Dogs4Life Onlus is an italian non-profit organisation that trains assistance dogs for people with disabilities. During the project Dog4Life Onlus will train 3 dogs to be deployed in Tuscany, Lombardy and Veneto.

Viaduq67 is a non-profit association, and member of the France Victimes network. Viaduq67 already hosts a Facility Dog to support victims of crime in the Strasbourg region.

Canisha and Hachiko are Belgian assistance dog organisations that intend to train dogs to be placed in Belgium.

Oliver, Facility dog in the UK

Handi’Chiens is the French dog training association supporting partners in the training of trainers, dogs and handlers.

The University College of Cork in Ireland will lead the research component of the project, evaluating how the presence of the Facility Dog impacted the victims’ experience.

Learn more about the project on our dedicated page. If you would like to support us in developing this project you can donate via VSE donate or for more information about the project contact Léa Meindre-Chautrand lea@victimsuporteurope.eu