Tri-State dogs provide therapy in time of need

The Tri-State Canine Response Team answers the call during times of unspeakable horror.

Tri-State’s mission is to comfort, support and enhance the quality of life of those who are suffering from a personal condition or community crisis utilizing the human-canine bond and its power to heal. The dogs are four-legged ambassadors who provide comfort to people who have experienced tragedy.

Dogs and their handlers have recently responded to sites of mass shootings in Uvlade, Texas, and Buffalo, NY

The most recent deployment to Texas from May 27 to June 1 included a team of four dogs and six handlers, three of whom were crisis counselors.

Locally, team members include Gail Hamman and Mallie of Lewes, Ruth Osman and Kelsey of Lewes, and Linda Walter with Ripley and Yogi of Milton.

When the team arrives, the dogs immediately attract attention. Team members have books filled with hundreds of photographs of children, adults and first responders interacting with the dogs.

Hamman said deployment teams are invited to sites.

“The dogs are therapy for people who are suffering. We’ve had students tell us that they love the dogs because they provide comfort and don’t ask questions,” she said.

The Crisis Intervention Team, based in Cherry Hill, NJ, has been 13 times over the past few years.

Kelsey, a golden retriever, has been a therapy dog ​​since 2011; Ripley, also a golden retriever, since 2014; and Yogi, another golden, since 2014.

Mallie is vested

On June 13, Mallie, a rescued labrador retriever, was vested by her sponsor, Chris Antonio, owner of Antonio’s Training Systems, in a ceremony at his Rehoboth Beach gym. Dogs can be sponsored with a $250 donation. Mallie, who has been a certified therapy dog ​​since September 2016, has achieved the highest certification by regimen a rigorous trainingn.

Hamman brings Mallie with her one day a week during her workout session. “We call it Mallie Monday,” Antonio said. “It’s a great way to start the week. Mallie is able to soften everyone, and she helps set the mood for the week. If you are in a bad mood, after a visit with Mallie, that mood is no more.”

Hamman said Mallie’s early life was a harsh one. She was feral when she was found; she weighed 45 pounds and was suffering with heartworms.

Today, Mallie is a trained therapy and Delmarva Search and Rescue dog, and is also a PAWS for People therapy companion.

A volunteer organization

Hamman said the dogs have to be trained to travel and are subjected to a simulated TSA screening. “They have to be able to sit and stay, and then pass through the X-ray machine when they are called. They have to be well-behaved and be good with other dogs,” she said.

Team members get their dogs out into the public as much as possible to get them used to noise and distractions, which they learn to ignore. Hamman takes Mallie to services at St. Jude the Apostle Catholic Church. It’s not unusual to see the dogs and their handlers on the Rehoboth Beach Boardwalk and in local restaurants.

The dogs make frequent visits to schools, libraries and colleges.

The team is an all-volunteer operation that is funded by donations. For more information, go to or call 609-828-0684.


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