Expansion Announced for Alabama’s Comfort Dog Program
A state program that helps victims of crimes received a boost Monday.
The Alabama District Attorney’s Association and others announced the expansion of the state’s Facility Dog Program.
A $700,000 grant from ADECA will help the state provide more comfort dogs to those in need.
“He’s made a big difference in a lot of the interactions that he’s had with them,” handler Ann Leith says.
Her dog, Wilson, has been trained to help help victims of crime and abuse through the court system or with interviews by investigators.
“He will go into the forensic interview with them which is where they’re first disclosing any reports of abuse or neglect,” Leith says.
“The training is very expensive,” Deputy Director of the Alabama District Attorney Association Barry Matson says. “The group out of Florida provide the dogs to us at no charge but the dogs can be $25-$50 thousand dollars a piece with the training that they go through.”
The grant also helps with equipment, transportation, and salaries for the handlers.
Currently, Alabama has five comfort dogs.
The handlers take the dogs to different parts of the state.
With the grant, areas like Shelby County will soon be receiving a facility dog for their court system.
“This is something that most DA’s offices could not afford if it were not for the grant,” Shelby County District Attorney Jill Lee says.
Lee says the new facility dog will help victims through difficult circumstances.
“They’ve (the victims) been intimidated, they may have been threatened and it’s difficult, its very very difficult to face that abuser in the court of law,” Lee says.
Montgomery County already has a comfort dog.
Covington County is on a waiting list to receive a comfort dog.
The Alabama District Attorney’s Association expects 12 dogs will be recruited in the next year.