Yamhill on list for courthouse dog
District Attorney Brad Berry announced Monday that his office has been placed on a formal waiting list by Canine Companions for Independence.
“We have worked diligently to show CCI not only the need for such an amazing animal in Yamhill County, but that we are ready to receive one and immediately put it to use with victims of crime, especially the most vulnerable of victims in our system,” Berry said.
After looking into the program with a prosecutor from Seattle’s King County, Wash., about 1 1/2 years ago, Berry said his office went through a process of educating local officials, including law enforcement officers, child abuse investigators and court personnel, about a dog’s ability to put victims at ease.
The Yamhill County commissioners approved Berry’s pursuit of the animal in July, as long as it did not require a general fund appropriation.
Berry’s office proceeded to submitted applications and conduct phone interviews. Then Berry and County Victim Advocate Sarah Grabner, the county’s designated canine handler, traveled to Santa Rosa, Calif., for followup interviews.
A dog is likely to become available in May. However, placement could take as long as August.
When the time comes, Grabner will be required to participate in an intensive training at CCI.
Courthouse dogs are specially bred, then submitted to 18 months of intensive training. They learn 50 commands designed to help them work with the disabled as well as the normally abled.
The dogs are valued at $25,000. All funds are being privately raised.
They can typically be expected to serve eight to 10 years. The only local expense is for their upkeep.
Berry said how just a few minutes of observing one of the dogs with a victim is all it takes to realize the extraordinary benefit.
“Watching as the dog lays its head on a child’s lap, the child, almost unconsciously, stroking it while talking about very difficult topics, leaves no doubt as to the soothing effect this companion can have.
“We are fortunate to have been selected. More importantly, we have a duty to do everything we can to ease victims’ trauma and this will certainly do so.”
Call Berry at 503-434-7539 for more information.