FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
ABINGDON, VA (June 30, 2020): The Children’s Advocacy Center (CAC) of Highlands Community Services (HCS) is thrilled to announce the homecoming of a new Facility Dog Team — Lynn Rasnake, from Abingdon, VA and Alpha, a black Labrador, from KSDS Assistance Dogs, Inc. The duo graduated on June 6, 2020 and have already been busy working at the CAC.
KSDS Assistance Dogs, Inc. is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization that provides professionally trained guide, service and facility dogs for people in need of a canine partner to enhance their independence, to fully function in society and/or to enrich their professional career responsibilities with the ongoing support of KSDS trainers to ensure proficient working partnerships. KSDS trains guide dogs, services dogs and facility dogs.
Facility dogs are specially trained to work with a professional in the field of education, counseling, and specialty agencies. Facility dogs must complete and pass the health and temperament testing just like guide and service dogs. They also adhere to the same high training standards as service dogs. In their line of work, these dogs can model appropriate behavior, teach positive interaction, interrupt hyperactivity and perform many other tasks. Since 2003 KSDS (formerly known as Kansas Specialty Dog Service), has been fully accredited by Assistance Dogs International, meeting and exceeding standards of training and ethics set forth by that agency.
“Since 2014 the Children’s Advocacy Center of Highlands Community Services has been very fortunate to have a facility dog on our staff. A facility dog is a service dog, that has also graduated from a highly specialized training program. At the CAC the facility dog accompanies child victims in forensic interviews and also in their counseling sessions. The calming presence of the dog helps put the child at ease while they describe their abuse to investigators and counselors. New laws in Virginia even allow the dog to accompany the child in the courtroom if he or she has to testify,” said Kathi Roark, Program Director at CAC of HCS.
Alpha was born first to a litter of 10. He and his siblings were all named after the Military Alphabet. He has one sibling that also went on to serve as a Guide dog. He will turn three-years-old in August.
“He is a calm, patient and loving dog that enjoys being around children. Something unique about Alpha’s background, is that he has also suffered hardships, just as the children that come to the CAC have. I would never attempt to compare the trauma that he has suffered to those of the children we serve but hope to use this as a talking point to engage the children in a discussion about trauma and how it can affect everyone and in different ways. I have witnessed this topic get children to start talking about their boo boo’s and surgeries and then other disclosures,” said Lynn Rasnake, Outpatient Therapist at CAC of HCS.
Lynn Rasnake, Alpha’s Handler, has worked at HCS for over 13 years in multiple capacities — with children, adolescents and adults. She received her BSW at Virginia Intermont College and MSW at East Tennessee State University. She is currently a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) and Certified Trauma Specialist (CTS). She is one of three Forensic Interviewers and Outpatient Therapists at the CAC, where she has been working since 2017.
The CAC would like to thank KSDS Assistance Dogs, Inc., Science Diet, Frontline and Heartgard for their generosity and support.
Photo: Lynn Rasnake, Outpatient Therapist at CAC of HCS with Alpha, Facility Dog at CAC of HCS
Highlands Community Services is a multi-faceted Community Service Board providing mental health, substance use and developmental services to the residents of Washington County and Bristol, Virginia. Serving thousands of individuals each year, their goal is to provide a full continuum of care and to increase access to innovative behavioral health services by “improving lives and discovering possibilities” along the way. To learn more, visit HighlandsCSB.org.