How a ‘very good dog’ is helping child abuse victims

National

CLAYTON, Mo. – He has been called an invaluable member of the St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office, except this team member doesn’t come with a briefcase but a leash.

Levi is the St. Louis County Courthouse facility dog. His handler, Lisa Jones, is the program manager of the Victim’s Unit. Together, Lisa and Levi work mostly with their child sexual abuse and child abuse teams.

“We typically use him when children had to come in to meet with prosecutors to talk about the victimization,” Jones said. “We’ve also used him to go with victims to depositions and he’s also trying to accompany children and they have to testify in court.”

Levi has been with the office for three years and Jones said his presence has a way of magically melting away some of the stress a victim may have.

“We ask victims to come in a court to come into our office and talk about the absolute worst experience they have ever gone through,” Jones said. “It’s a daunting task and they’re talking about things that are violent that are private that are frightening.”

Levi sits right next to the victims, curls up at their feet, and when they need a little extra support, he knows when to put his head on their lap or nudge their hand of for a pet.

Levi was donated to the courthouse by Duo Dogs. He was chosen for this job because he can stay at a “down stay” for hours, which is sometimes necessary during testimony.

And you have to be pretty good at your job to get your own coloring book like Levi.

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