New EU project: Facility Dogs to support victims in Belgium, France and Italy

2 Feb, 2021

VSE is proud to announce the start of a new EU funded project called ‘FYDO – Facility Dogs in Europe’.

Victims of crime often have to go through stressful settings such as being interviewed at a police station, giving testimony in a courtroom or simply going to an appointment with their support worker. All these experiences are highly stressful and can have particularly negative impact on vulnerable victims. Research has documented that a dog’s presence can reduce a person’s anxiety by promoting a safe feeling and providing contact-comfort, and therefore reduce the risk of secondary victimisation for the victims.

To extend support for vulnerable victims, Victim Support Europe teamed up with Hachiko (BE), Canisha (BE), Dog4Life Onlus (IT), Handi’Chiens (FR), Viaduq67 (FR) and the University College of Cork (UCC) (IE), to launch the first multi-national effort in the EU to train and place facility dogs (FYDO) in Belgium, Italy and France. The effort is supported by the experts from the Courthouse Dogs Foundation – the pioneers of facility dogs in the world.

Ophelia, trained by Dog4Life Onlus to become a Faciltiy Dog in Italy

FYDO dogs are not someone’s well behaved pets. They are working dogs – carefully selected and trained by specialist organisations, members of the Assistance Dogs International and Assistance Dogs Europe. Following a strict training programme which lasts about two years, FYDO dogs are placed to a workplace, where they are handed over to specially trained handlers who work to support vulnerable victims in their recovery.

In 2021 and 2022, FYDO partners will implement this ground-breaking project made possible with the funding of the European Commission. The project will not only enable training and placement of at least FYDO dogs in the three countries, but will also make the FYDO service available to many vulnerable victims. Our partners from UCC will carefully monitor the implementation of the project and make sure that we learn from it and set the foundation for spreading the FYDO initiative across Europe and make FYDO support available to all vulnerable victims who might need furry support in their recovery.

Orphée, second FYDO dog in France and handled by Viaduq67, visiting a courthouse for the first time

Meet the partners of the project:

Dogs4Life Onlus is an italian non-profit organisation that trains assistance dogs for people with disabilities, during the project Dog4Life Onlus will train 3 dogs which will be deployed in Tuscany, Lombardy and Veneto.

Viaduq67 is a non-profit association, member of the France Victimes network. Viaduq67 has already started to host a Facility Dog that will support victims of crime in the region of Strasbourg.

Canisha and Hachiko are Belgian dog assistance organisations which will train at least one dog to be handled by the Ghent police.

Oliver, Facility dog in the UK

Handi’Chiens is the French dog training association which will support partners in the training of trainers, dogs and handlers.

The University College of Cork in Ireland will lead the research component of the project with the aim of evaluating the victims’ experience with the presence of a Facility Dog.

Learn more about the project on our dedicated page. If you would like to support us in developing this project you can donate via VSE donate or for more information about the project contact Léa Meindre-Chautrand