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NAFFVN firefighterveteran Shannon Pennington and his new "Service Dog" Devon get to know each other;
Shannon Pennington, founder and chief officer of the North American Firefighter Veteran Network.
Shannon brings with him his 26 years of experience with the Calgary Fire Department as a Heavy Rescue and EMT(A)/First Responder firefighter, and eight years as President of the Calgary Fire Department Honour Guard. He was invited by the Mental Health Commission of Canada to attend the 6th World Congress on Mental Health and Stigma in the Workplace in 2012 where he received the working title as PWLE (Person With Lived Experience) – someone who has been diagnosed with PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) and has learned to live a productive, healthy life in spite of his mental illness.
Shannon has spent the last 22 months in the province of Alberta Canada working with firefighters in Calgary and in a lobby effort to bring PTSD awareness to the attention of the Alberta Canada Government. In December of 2012, Alberta Bill 1 was passed into law giving P.T.S.D. Presumptive Coverage for Alberta’s 27,000 listed first responders in Fire, EMS, and Law Enforcement under the Workers Compensation Board coverage.
“Over the last several years, Shannon and I have worked together to educate and help firefighters in North America and beyond who are struggling with mental health issues including PTSD.
Photos above are of Shannon in the Garden with his service dog Devon Cream, a pure breed Coton du Tulier of french lineage and coming from Coton Field Breeders out of Abbotsford B.C. Devon was picked to work with Shannon in his P.T.S. recovery and was coded for being a "Service Dog". Devon is, as of this posting in November 2013, 11 months old. In this photo set he is 3 months old. Devon is trained to alert Shannon when the P.T.S. triggers start to go off. Devon alerts by sitting on his behind looking straight at Shannon with his ears back and his eyes focused on me. A small whimper or bark lets me know that where I am at is something he does not like and I am to retire or retreat from the situation and re group myself and retry or move away. P.T.S. has many triggers which get a person started on the wrong path with Anger being a main feature. Social Situations do not always work out and as such Devon becomes a good sounding board to let me know when "things are escalating" or getting out of hand with other people.