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Fire department welcomes new therapy support dog


The Huntsville and Lake of Bay fire departments have added a furry member to their team.

Ember, a four-month-old chocolate lab, is their new therapy support dog.

"We just figured this was one more tool in the toolbox to help our members," says Huntsville Fire Chief Gary Monahan.

Monahan brought the idea to council last month and it was unanimously approved.

"We have been learning over the last council session the value of fire service and health and wellness for the firefighters and making sure that when we're looking at our budgets, we provide them with the tools they need," says Lake of Bays councillor Rick Brooks.

Monahan says Ember has already been impacting the firefighters and municipal staff.

"When you come in the morning, and you see the dog, or you're having a bad day, and Ember comes up with her wagging tail, or she'll sit in your lap, or you feed her treats and take her for a walk, I'll be honest, it takes the stress all away," says Monahan.

"It actually is very calming. You can't really think about much with a puppy jumping around or even a full-grown dog. And as soon as you pet a dog, it's almost meditative, " says Mayor Terry Glover.

Ember was donated by LuckyLabs, a local service dog organization. Care expenses are estimated to be around $4,000 per year, with the cost split between the Township of Lake of Bays and the Town of Huntsville.

"She is here during working hours. If there was a major incident, peer support group, or something else that came up, we would definitely bring Ember in for that," says Ember's handler, Nicole Challis.

After completing her obedience dog training, Ember will undergo service dog training to attend public schools and senior homes. Top Stories

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