Now Accepting Applications for “First Responder Paws Therapy Dog Award”
Over $2000 Worth of Pet Prizes to Top Dog and Handler
FHE Health is now accepting applications for the First Responder Paws Therapy Dog Award. This new, annual contest will officially launch August 1 on social media. For more details, read on.
The Cause – Why Participate
It’s not every day that we get to honor a therapy dog for its excellence in service or support our first responders and their mental health. Now we’re doing both, by offering the “First Responder Paws Therapy Dog Award.” This nationwide contest will showcase therapy dogs everywhere in the many roles they fill, while also shining the spotlight on therapy dogs that assist first responders—and the critical need for more such dogs, both in South Florida and in communities across the U.S.
The Need for More Therapy Dogs for First Responders
America’s first responders are on the frontlines of danger every day, saving lives and keeping our communities and nation safe. That can take a toll on their mental health.
Therapy dogs help these heroic men and women rebound from emergencies and reset between calls. The calming, healing presence of these dogs enables first responders to process the on-the-job traumas they’ve experienced and cope better with stress, grief, and anxiety.
As indispensable as they are in this capacity, therapy dogs can also be expensive to acquire and take time to train. This contest will shine a light on the critical role they play in supporting America’s public safety professionals. By recognizing one therapy dog for its excellence in service and by sharing their story with a national audience, we hope to advocate for more such therapy dogs in more communities across America.
The winner of the first-ever, annual First Responder Paws Therapy Dog Award will receive the following prize:
- Gift Basket From Chewy.com
- Over $2,000 in Additional Pet Prizes
- Free national publicity, including a feature blog that reaches more than 100,000 people on social media and a press release announcing the news
- A “Top Paws Therapy Dog Award” badge for placement on their website or blog in recognition of their status as one of 10 finalists
- A donation made in their honor by FHE Health to our partner organization First Responders Pack Foundation, which exists to train more therapy dogs for first responders
Who Can Apply?
Any owner/handler/trainer and their therapy dog in any context can apply for this award. Any person who wants to apply on behalf of a therapy dog that has made a difference in their life and/or community can also apply. In either case, be mindful that the selection committee would like to see some evidence of your impact on the first responder population. You and your therapy dog do not need to work exclusively with first responder populations in order to apply.
Deadline for Applications and Timeline for Award
The deadline for applications is November 10, 2023, after which 10 finalists will be announced on November 20. The final winner will be announced on December 4.
All applicants are required to complete a form on this website page. All applicants will be required to submit the following materials:
- A short typed essay (at least one paragraph in length) about the dog you are nominating and the dog’s story, as well as why you believe it should be awarded the First Responder Paws Therapy Dog Award
- Any proof of training such as therapy dog certification, enrollment in a certification course, or course(s) that qualifies the dog to serve in whatever context(s) it serves (hospital, nursing home, fire departments, etc.)
- A photo of the dog
- Any links to news or media reports about the dog
- A completed application form
First Responder Paws - Award 2023
The Selection Process
The finalists and first-place winner will be chosen by a small committee with representatives from FHE Health and FHE Health’s partner organization First Responders Pack Foundation. The Broward County-based non-profit is officially recognized by the American Kennel Club as a Certified Therapy Dog Organization and exists to train more therapy dogs to support the mental and emotional health of first responders in the aftermath of trauma.
Firefighter Dean Moreno, the founder of First Responders Pack Foundation, will help lead the selection committee. Moreno is a certified AKC evaluator for Star Puppy, Canine Good Citizen, Community Canine, and Urban Canine Good Citizen and can issue the Therapy Dog Certificate to eligible dogs. He is currently in the process to become a professional dog trainer.
Non-Discrimination Policy Disclaimer
About FHE Health
FHE Health, a national behavioral health provider, has been serving adults (ages 18 and up) with mental health and substance use needs for more than 20 years. From its headquarters in Deerfield Beach, Florida, our state-of-the-art facility serves men and women from around the country with integrated care, specialized treatment programs, and evidence-based therapies and innovations.
FHE’s specialized treatment program “Shatterproof at FHE Health” is nationally recognized for its work with first responders, many of whom have achieved quicker, more comprehensive recovery through cutting-edge neuroscience-based treatments, trauma therapies like EMDR, peer support groups, and … the occasional visit from a therapy dog.