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Therapy dog lends a helping paw to firefighters fighting CA blazes

As the pandemic and wildfires sweep through California, we are more grateful than ever for the first responders and medical staff who put their lives on the line every day to ensure the safety of their fellow citizens. For many firefighters, a lack of resources and stigma around mental health help leaves them struggling with PTSD, depression, and anxiety with few solutions to turn to. Fortunately, some organizations and dedicated first responders are working to support these public servants.

For firefighters battling the Woodward Fire in Marin County, one resource is Kerith, a lovable golden retriever and licensed pet therapy dog. After trainers determined Kerith was too friendly to be a guide dog for the blind, she found a new purpose visiting local hospitals and firehouses to share her love and lend a paw to those needing some extra support. 

She greeted first responders last week at base camp with quiet support. Although it might not seem like much, a gentle cuddle from a furry friend can make a big difference for firefighters anxious about another long day of battling blazes. 

Other tangible changes to address the mental health needs of first responders include stationing mental health professionals at key accessible stations, increasing hazard pay, and increasing the number of personal days available. 

If you’re looking to help firefighters and those displaced by the fires today, here is a comprehensive list of organizations you can contribute to, including the California Fire Foundation, American Red Cross, and GlobalGiving.

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