EDGARD — A floppy-eared pup recently joined the ranks of the St. John the Baptist Sheriff’s Office with a mission to comfort crime victims, first responders and others trying to cope with traumatic experiences.
Finn comes with his own story of trauma: he was born to a dog seized amid a local animal-hoarding investigation, according to Facebook pages for the Sheriff’s Office and the Friends of the St. John Parish Animal Shelter.
Finn’s mother, Athena, was among over 150 animals seized in January as part of a cruelty case. Many of the animals have been taken in by larger animal-rescue groups, but more than a dozen of the hoarded dogs and cats remained at the LaPlace shelter.
Finn’s trainer, Severine Vicknair, and her husband, Cpl. Roy Vicknair with the St. John the Baptist Parish Sheriff’s Office, decided to foster the pregnant Athena. Finn and his four litter mates were born Feb. 6.
The following month, Lt. Christie Chauvin with the Sheriff’s Office spoke with Severine Vicknair about training Finn as a Trauma K-9 officer. In preparation, a then seven-week-old Finn took a series of aptitude tests given by three different professional trainers. “Finn’s scores estimate him to be the perfect candidate for his future purpose,” Severine Vicknair said in a Facebook post by the Sheriff’s Office.
An aptitude for service may run in the family. Two of Finn’s litter mates are starting the process to become service dogs, while another pup is being evaluated for service in another parish, according to the Facebook post.
Severine Vicknair is donating her professional dog-training services to prep Finn for his new work with his handler, Juvenile Detective Sgt. Ann Taylor.
Finn will serve in a variety of situations — providing comfort and calm in to those affected by childhood abuse, domestic abuse, fatal crashes and other traumatic events.
“Many people underestimate the influence a pet can have on a person’s emotional well-being,” St. John the Baptist Parish Sheriff Mike Tregre said in the post to the Sheriff’s Office Facebook page. “My detectives took notice of the positive effects of trauma canines in other agencies and they suggested we have one as well.”