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Wilmington Fire Department adds a crisis response facility dog to its team

Wilmington Fire Department
Wilmington Fire Department station 8 with their new crisis response facility dog Rhys

The Wilmington Fire Department launched a new partnership with the Paws4People foundation. While dogs have always been welcomed at fire stations, this new pilot program puts them to work.

Rhys, is a well-mannered black labrador who’s assigned to Wilmington’s fire station 8. He’s been trained for two years on how to respond to crisis situations. It’s not an easy job. He’s responsible for helping firefighters with the stress of their dangerous and unpredictable work, and providing comfort in emergency situations.

Wilmington Fire Department
After two years of training, Rhys (sounds like 'Reese') is ready to take on the job of WFD's crisis response facility dog.

Josh Baltz, is a Master Firefighter at station 8.

“When we come back we’re humans to, so it's kind of hard for us to digest some of the stuff that we have to see, everybody always expects us to be able to show up and make it better. And a lot of times, we can't always do that,” he said

Rhys’s official title is crisis response facility dog. He’s been trained by the Paws4People Foundation specifically for this assignment.

Kyria Whisenhunt is the Executive Director of Paws4People. 

“It's not the same as just taking a therapy dog somewhere. They're trained to do these jobs from birth. So he's had several hundreds of hours of training and all types of scenarios, so he's definitely prepared,” she said.

Rhys was named in honor of US Army Sergeant Rhys W. Klasno, who was killed in Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2007 at just 20 years old.

The fire department hopes to expand the program based on Rhys’s hard work and success.

Ashley Brown is from from Houston, TX. She holds a BA in Mass Communication from Sam Houston State University and an MA in Professional Communication and Digital Media from Texas Southern University. Her love of news, radio, and entertainment led her to the field of journalism. As a creative person, she loves the journalistic challenge of putting stories together. And as a future news reporter, she hopes to tell stories that reach and affect people. In her spare time, she enjoys music, reading, journaling, spending time with friends and family, and trying out new brunch places to eat.