After surviving a massive commercial fire and explosion in Downtown Los Angeles, LAFD Captain II Victor Aguirre welcomes a new recruit to his personal crew: Hank the Service Dog. Working together at the Patriotic Service Dog Foundation, Victor and Hank are teaming up as Victor marches forward on the road to recovery.
Since severe burns make it difficult for Victor to use his hands, Hank, the gentle, intelligent and highly-skilled Labrador is learning to open doors, turn on lights, pick up items, and perform numerous other impressive tasks. Watch as Victor explains how Hank is helping him heal from this ordeal, will make a wonderful addition to Victor’s loving and supportive family, and how canines can make a positive impact on the lives of military veterans, firefighters, police and other first responders.
Connected by Kindness
The connection between Hank and Victor was made possible thanks to another powerful connection felt by our charity’s very first Volunteer of the Year, Jan Carver Graf. As the surviving spouse of an LAFD Captain, Jan began volunteering in tribute to her late husband, Henry J. Graf, best known as “Jay.” She not only donates countless hours and financial support to our Widows, Orphans & Disabled Firefighter’s Fund; she also turned her love of animals and people into a mission to serve. Jan has helped numerous charities, such as the Best Friends Animal Society and the Patriotic Service Dog Foundation, where she’s been a dedicated volunteer and donor for more than 6 years.
After meeting the foundation’s Executive Director and Head Trainer Tom Tackett, and witnessing the amazing work being done with military veterans, Jan knew service dogs could be a valuable and important resource for firefighters too. Once she introduced the idea and the foundation to fire department personnel, the connections and opportunity came to the attention of Victor, who joined the Patriotic Service Dog Foundation program and immediately bonded with Hank. Whether they work in the same station, or meet under other circumstances, the bond felt by firefighters and firefighter families to one another is strong and why so many consider themselves part of a much larger “fire family.”
About Our Charity
Jan and Victor are each proud members of the Los Angeles Firemen’s Relief Association. Since 1906, Los Angeles City Firefighters have entrusted the L.A. Firemen’s Relief Association to be there for them and those they leave behind. The needs of firefighters are unique because the profession poses many dangers and consequences. Founded on the mission of “firefighters helping firefighters,” the Relief offers programs and assistance for firefighters and their families. The organization also administers the Widows, Orphans & Disabled Firefighter’s Fund, a nonprofit 501(c)(3) charity dedicated to helping the families of LAFD firefighters facing a serious crisis, such as being injured or killed in the line of duty. Thanks to kind and generous contributions, the charity makes a significant impact and provides much needed care for the people served, such as assisting with basic living expenses, health insurance premiums, providing durable medical equipment, and awarding memorial scholarships to children of firefighters who died while active duty.