It is known that taking part in criminal proceedings significantly increases the chances of suffering from re-victimisation and prolonged trauma, to which vulnerable victims are particularly susceptible. Victims of crime often have to go through stressful settings such as a medical examination, interview at a police station, or a testimony in a courtroom. Research has shown that dogs can reduce a person’s anxiety by promoting a safe feeling and providing contact-comfort, and therefore reduce the risk of secondary victimisation for the victims.
Based on the work of the Courthouse Dogs Foundation in the US, VSE is leading the first European project to train and deploy at least 5 dogs in Belgium, Italy and France to support vulnerable victims during criminal proceedings: FYDO – Facility Dogs in Europe. Facility Dogs (FYDO) are carefully selected and highly trained by specialist organisation and handled to support vulnerable victims in their recovery.
VSE’s team will be reinforced by FYDO experts internally and partnership will bring together all major FYDO initiatives in Europe:
Handi’Chiens (FR) is an association recognized as a public utility which educates and provides free assistance dogs to people with disabilities. Since its creation in 1989, more than 2,300 dogs have been handed over to children or adults in fragile situations. Handi’Chiens has trained the first Facility Dogs in the EU, LOL who is handled by the fire department of the Lot department in France.
Dogs4Life Onlus (IT) is a non-profit organization that was born with the aim of transforming and improving the lives of people with disabilities and allowing them to live independently and enjoy an exciting lifestyle with highly trained assistance dogs. Dog4Life will train 3 dogs to be deployed in shelters for women victims of domestic violence and victims aid centers.
Viaduq 67 (FR) is a non-profit association, member of the France Victimes network. Viaduq67 focuses its action on supporting victims, listening to them and supporting them in all their efforts. The support to victims is ensured by a multidisciplinary team made up of lawyers, psychologists, sociologists, mediators, specialized educators, etc. Viaduq67 is hosting the second Facility Dog in France, Orphée.
Canisha (BE) is a recognised association authorized by the Flemish government that trains assistance dogs and makes them available free of charge to people with disabilities. In this way Canisha wants to increase the autonomy, self-reliance and reintegration of people with a visible and non-visible disability. As part of the FYDO project Canisha and Hachiko will train Facility Dogs that will be placed to assist victims in criminal proceedings.
Hachiko (BE) is the first Belgian association for the training of assistance dogs for people with a motor disability. Thanks to Hachiko, 125 assistance dogs in Flanders are available every day to help their owners. As part of the FYDO project Canisha and Hachiko will train Facility Dogs that will be placed to assist victims in criminal proceedings.
The University College of Cork (IE) will conduct the research part of the FYDO project with the aim of evaluating the victims’ experience with the presence of a Facility Dog. The research will educate project partners initially and ultimately external stakeholders and the broader public about the benefits and impacts of facility dogs.
Objectives of the project:
- Develop and introduce a novelty training programme for FYDO dogs and handlers;
- Train 5 FYDO dogs and up to 10 handlers;
- Support at least 200 highly vulnerable victims;
- Raise awareness and disseminate results to inform stakeholders and general public;
- Advocate for the embedding of the service into the justice systems and extension of the service in project countries and in the rest of the EU.
Activities under the project:
- Training of trainers, handlers and dogs
- Placement of dogs into services (police station, victim support services, shelters for women victims of domestic violence, victims aid centers, …)
VSE would like to thank Elastik for their work on the FYDO logo and branding.