Kerith the Golden Retriever Is Offering Comfort to California Firefighters

Clear the Shelters

Meet Kerith — a certified crisis response therapy dog offering comfort and support to firefighters in California.

The 2-year-old golden retriever has met firefighters daily at the wildfire base camp in Marin County for the past few weeks, calming them and putting smiles on their faces during and after their morning briefings.

The 2,500-acre Woodward wildfire has prompted more than 200 firefighters to work on the scene, as well as five crews, 17 fire engines, five helicopters and two water-scooping planes, according to NBC Bay Area. Kerith visits the firefighters at the wildfire camp base every day.

“We are tasked with things that push our limits,” John Aitchison, a firefighter in Marin County, told TODAY. “And having something like a dog brings some of type of normalcy back into our lives. All these abnormal events are getting really tiring on all our folks here. So having that comfort is therapeutic.”

Kerith’s handler, Heidi Carman, told TODAY that the pup helps the firefighters “by just letting them be with her, and they don’t have to say anything.”

She continued, “They’ve told me that Kerith makes them feel ‘important, loved and special.’”

Kerith was born and raised to be a guide dog for the blind and “changed careers” at 14 months old to an occupation more suited for her — a therapy dog, according to Carman. The test Kerith had to take in front of five judges to obtain her therapy dog certificate was a rigorous one, Carman said. If Kerith jumped once during the entire test, she would flunk.

“Now she loves to jump up and dance with the firefighters,” Carman said.

Kerith has started sitting in on debriefing meetings following tough calls for the team to help calm them after what’s many times a traumatizing experience.

“Often, the firefighters won’t talk about their feelings, but if there’s a dog there, then it helps for them to open up and feel like they can talk,” Carman said.

“These fires are getting longer and longer, and we’re spending more and more time away from our families,” Aitchison said. “A golden retriever, one of the happiest things in the world, just reminds you of home.”

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TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) - Thousands of pets are looking for their forever homes and News Channel 8 is On Your Side helping to make that happen in the Tampa Bay area.

We are teaming up with hundreds of shelters across the country to host Clear the Shelters, a nationwide pet adoption drive from Aug. 1 through Aug. 31, featuring virtual pet adoptions to make it easy for people to donate online to participating shelters and rescues.

More than 150,000 pets found their forever homes since 2015 and we want to add to the number.

Find a shelter near you:

  • Pasco County Animal Services, 19640 Dogpatch Lane, Land O'Lakes
  • Paw Warriors, Inc., 355 Spring Time Street, Spring Hill
  • Pinellas County Animal Services, 12450 Ulmerton Road, Largo
  • Cat Haven Rescue, Inc, 1231 Bruce B. Downs Blvd, Wesley Chapel
  • Cat Haven Rescue, Inc - Pasco, 8529 Little Road, New Port Richey
  • SPCA Tampa Bay, 9099 130th Ave N, Largo
  • Bishop Animal Shelter SPCA of Manatee County, 5718 21st Ave West, Bradenton
  • Hernando County Animal Services, 19450 Oliver Street, Brooksville
  • SPCA Florida, 5850 Brannen Rd S, Lakeland
  • Barking Out Loud Rescues, Inc, 300 N Lake Drive, Lorida
  • Precious Paws Rescue, Inc., Citrus County Florida, 5164 S. Florida Avenue, Inverness
  • Humane Society of Pinellas, 3040 State Road 590, Clearwater
  • Hernando County SPCA, 9075 Grant St, Brooksville
  • St Francis Society, PO Box 261614, Tampa
  • Humane Society of Tampa Bay, 3607 N Armenia Avenue, Tampa
  • Rebels Rescue, Petco 136 S. West shore Blvd, Tampa
  • SPCA Suncoast, 7734 Congress Street, New Port Richey
  • Friends of Strays Animal Shelter, 2911 47th Avenue North, St. Petersburg
  • Florida English Bulldog Rescue, P.O. Box 754, Odessa
  • The Humane Society of Polk County, Inc, 3195 Dundee Rd, Winter Haven
  • The Humane Society of Sarasota County, 2331 15th Street, Sarasota
  • Hands Helping Paws Rescue Inc., 53 W Bay Blvd S, Lake Wales
  • Humane Society of Manatee County, 2515 14th Avenue W, Bradenton
  • Highlands County Sheriffs Animal Services, 7300 Haywood Taylor Blvd, Sebring
  • Manatee County Animal Services, 305 25th St W, Palmetto
  • SPCA Suncoast, 7734 Congress Street, New Port Richey
  • Citrus County Animal Services, 4030 S. Airport Rd, Inverness
  • St Francis Society, PO Box 261614, Tampa
  • FLUFF Animal Rescue, 9400 SEMINOLE BOULEVARD, SEMINOLE
  • SPCA Tampa Bay, 9099 130th Ave N, Largo
  • Polk County Sheriff's Office Animal Control, 7115 De Castro Rd, Winter Haven
  • The Greener Side Haven, Inc., 3892 N Lecanto Hwy, Beverly Hills
  • Humane Society at Lakewood Ranch, 26920 Gopher Hill Road, Myakka City

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