Victims of crimes in Stafford County receive emotional support and comfort from a four-legged addition to the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Victim-Witness Office. Kahn, a male black Labrador retriever, joined the Victim-Witness staff on February 21, 2012. The dog works with children and adult victims of sexual assault, domestic violence, elder abuse and other violent crimes.
Kahn's job is to sit and provide comfort to victims during interviews both before and after court testimony. Most victims, especially children, come into the office already traumatized. Having a dog there to pet relaxes and helps people open up and give details about their case.
“The goal of having a courthouse dog is two-fold,” said Commonwealth’s Attorney Eric Olsen, “We want the dog’s presence to make children and adults more comfortable so they can better tell their story. Plus, we hope it will help make a tough experience a little easier on those who’ve already had a hard time.”
Kahn and his handler, Juanita Maley of the Victim/Witness Assistance Program, completed training with Canine Companions for Independence (CCI). CCI is an organization which trains canine companions, service dogs, and facility dogs like Kahn. There is no charge for the dog, his training, and follow-up services. Kahn lives with Ms. Maley who provides for his care and support. Staff received courthouse dog training through funds provided from assets forfeited by convicted criminals.