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Firefighters battling California wildfires visited by Kerith the therapy dog

October 29, 2020

Battling wildfires can take an emotional and physical toll on firefighters, but a two-year-old golden retriever has come to rescue, relieving stress and providing comfort to firefighters on the front lines.

Kerith is a certified crisis response therapy animal through a nonprofit organization, Pet Partners. Kerith and her handler, Heidi Carman, started volunteering at MarinHealth Emergency and Trauma department to visit patients and staff members.

“Kerith would help people feel calm and relaxed in stressful situations,” said Carman. “Kerith has been helpful to so many people.”

Through Marin Health, Kerith became friends with local firefighter paramedics and started visiting fire departments before the coronavirus shutdown.

In mid-August a rare lightning storm struck the Bay Area causing a number of fires. Since then, Kerith has been visiting many fire base camps to provide comfort to firefighters.

“It was an extremely busy period during this fire season,” said Carman. “After I saw how helpful Kerith was at the Woodward Fire base camp, I was really happy to visit the crews that were fighting the fires.”

“She was out there every single day at our base camp,” said Bret McTigue, Battalion Chief for Marin County Fire. “When men and women have the opportunity to see a friendly face, like Kerith, it connects them. No matter what is going on in their lives, and the trauma that they are seeing on a daily basis. They are able to de-stress.”

After visiting the first fire base camp, CAL FIRE requested Kerith to visit more firefighters to boost the morale at the base camp.

Kerith has visited the Woodward Fire, the Glass Fire, the Creek Fire, and August Complex fires.

“We had crews from all over the country that have been gone from their families for weeks, months,” said McTigue. “So, she has been up and down the state helping firefighters that have been away from their families for a real long time. She is definitely made for what she does and she does a great job of being a good therapy dog for the public safety sector.”

Kerith and her handler have been inseparable since Kerith was eight-weeks-old and is happy to take Kerith wherever she is needed the most.

“The fact that I have this amazing dog who can bring so much joy to others is just priceless,” said Carman. “I can see how happy that she makes other people and I feel that happiness also. I am so happy that I am able to do this work with her and see how helpful it is.”

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