Fresno non-profit gets furry addition to help victims of human trafficking

Joshua will eventually be able to detect mannerisms that indicate stress or anxiety.

Vanessa Vasconcelos Image
Wednesday, September 1, 2021
Fresno non-profit gets furry addition to help trafficking victims
Breaking the Chains, a local non-profit providing a safe space for human trafficking victims, is training its new service puppy to help with PTSD.

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Meet Joshua the puppy.

He may be small in stature now but this service dog is training to have an impact much bigger than he'll ever grow.

Joshua is the newest addition to Breaking the Chains Fresno.

The nonprofit has been providing hope, healing, and restoration to victims of human trafficking in the Central Valley since 2014.

"Dealing with PTSD is the number one thing that we do. First and foremost we want to make sure that they feel safe, feel secure," says the non-profit's cofounder Tiffany Apodaca.

Services include counseling and shelter to ensure a victim's trauma doesn't define them.

Co-Founder and survivor herself, Debra Rush, says Joshua is another tool in their belt to bring comfort to trafficking victims who go through re-traumatizing scenarios, such as court accompaniment for minors and young adults.

"If you can imagine a child having to go sit in front of a very dangerous individual who has terrified and frightened them in every way, Joshua is a game changer in that situation," Rush says.

For now, Joshua is learning foundational training for puppies including socializing and commands like 'sit' and 'stay'. But he will eventually be able to detect mannerisms that indicate stress or anxiety.

For clients working with him, Joshua will take part in the therapeutic process of healing.

That includes being able to lay at the feet of some clients to help them disengage from some things they need to process through and talk about in those moments.

Breaking the Chains works with local, state, and federal law enforcement to tackle human trafficking, offering a variety of services to make sure victims have a way to reintegrate into society.

"Just being able to watch that transformation in them, watching the spark in their eyes come back and the hope and them actually seeing that there's something better for them and they have a chance for a future - that alone is rewarding enough for everything we do here," says Apodaca.

If you believe anyone you know is a victim of sex trafficking or exploitation, you are urged to contact local law enforcement or Breaking the Chains directly at 888- 858-2021 or at for help.