Dog helps child abuse victims

Dog helps child abuse victims
Dog helps child abuse victims(Yzabelah Roberts)
Published: Nov. 17, 2020 at 6:57 PM MST|Updated: Nov. 18, 2020 at 9:18 AM MST
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GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (KKCO) - Rachael, a black lab, is the newest member of the child abuse investigation team for the Mesa County D.A.'s office and a facility dog at the Center for Children.

The specially trained K-9 helps children of abuse talk about their traumas, both in therapy and in the courtroom.

“To have her here, immediately, really calms everyone down, including the adults involved, but for these children who are asked to talk about really difficult things, having Rachael here just immediately calms them down,” says Joan Mulleady, Clinical Program Director at The Center for Children.

The 2-year-old pup was trained by an inmate in a San Diego prison before making her way to Grand Junction.

“A couple of the commands she will use a lot [at the Center] with the children are one called ‘lap,’ where she crawls onto the child’s lap. There’s a command called ‘visit,’ where she puts her head on the child’s lap. One of the important ones for court is called ‘under,’ and that’s where she calls underneath the witness box and the jury will not see her,” says her handler, Ashley Edstrom.

Rachel works 40-hours a week, but her handler says, “at the end of the day she’s a dog, she’s a beloved member of the family, she goes home with me, she plays, she runs, she has doggy friends.”

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