DeKalb County Family Services Agency Welcomes Laddie the Service Dog – Shaw Local
DeKALB – Monday was the first day at work for Laddie, a two-year-old black Labrador Retriever, who was taken in by the DeKalb County Family Services Agency to provide on-site comfort for children at the Children’s Advocacy Center.
The Children’s Advocacy Center is a branch of the DeKalb-based nonprofit that provides support and resources to children and families who may have experienced trauma or abuse. The center provides counselling, confidential trauma assessments and medical assessments and legal advocacy for families in need.
It’s a difficult environment for any child to navigate, and Family Services Agency staff say Laddie’s arrival is long overdue. The agency has been on a waiting list for two years. Staff traveled to St. Louis to pick up Laddie, who has been trained to help comfort children and families when they seek help at the center.
“He’s so good, he loves kids and he excels at his commands,” said Holly Peifer, director of the Children’s Advocacy Center.
Peifer said Laddie would live with her when they weren’t both working at the facility to help the children soothe their surroundings.
Laddie spends the first year of her life being trained by special volunteers who are worth with Duo Dogs, a St. Louis-based national non-profit organization that trains dogs to provide a range of physical, emotional and social support to their human companions.
When Laddie turned one, he went through advanced training for another six months to learn how to best help young children in settings like DeKalb Defense Center.
Peifer said Laddie’s personality and demeanor matched the culture and environment of the Family Service Agency, which brought them together.
“We had been on the waiting list for two years and couldn’t be happier to have Laddie with us,” Peifer said.
The DeKalb County Family Services Agency oversees five community programs including Youth Mentoring, Child Advocacy Center, Counseling Center, Community Action Program which provides services to enable families with low income to become independent and community services for the elderly.
Laddie’s training was specifically designed to ensure he would fit into the atmosphere of DeKalb County and the family services agency, Peifer said.
“They want to make sure they’re matching the right dog with the right setting,” Peifer said. “DeKalb County is a small rural community compared to Cook and DuPage Count. He’s more of a very laid-back speed bump than dogs that would do a lot more work in a big city.
Among the services offered by the Children’s Advocacy Center, staff coordinate confidential investigations into allegations of child abuse, trafficking and exploitation. The center works closely with local partners, including the DeKalb County State’s Attorney’s Office, the Illinois Department of Child and Family Services, law enforcement from the region, medical and trauma teams, lawyers and forensic investigators.
Center work can be stressful for children, families and caregivers alike. Laddie’s presence will therefore be comforting for all.
“Laddie isn’t just for the kids, he’s for the staff and our partners,” Peifer said. “Work can be very stressful, we are sad too.”