Crime victims and witnesses in the Bucks County criminal justice system now have a special support they never had before. She’s 2 years old and her name is Daisey.
The gentle, calm yellow Lab recently joined the district attorney’s office as its first “comfort dog” and was introduced to the media last week.
“She’s been working hard,” said District Attorney Matthew Weintraub, as Daisey, wearing her black comfort vest, looked on, seemingly oblivious to all the attention.
“Her positive energy and positive vibes are contagious,” said Weintraub. “She immediately ratchets down the tension,” whether it’s among the often-stressed staff or with victims and witnesses who are testifying in court.
Assistant District Attorney Ashley Towhey, who helped to bring a support animal to the courthouse, said she visited Lehigh and Montgomery county courts, to see how their support dogs were working. Seeing their successes, she said she and Weintraub were soon committed to Bucks having a similar program.
It took two years to see the idea through. Officials started working with Canine Partners for Life, based in Cochranville, Chester County, whose mission is to bring more independence to those with disabilities and others in need, explained Tonya Guy, Canine Partners for Life’s associate director of communications, who was on hand for Daisey’s debut.
Training a dog is a two-year process, she said. The animals are raised and socialized in various communities, including by prison inmates. Choosing which animal is best suited for an individual or other environment, such as working with victims of crime, is a careful evaluation.
Daisey was selected for her position for a variety of reasons, including her social abilities, Guy noted. The animals typically will work eight to 10 years.
Daisey does not go into court rooms but is with attorneys, victims and witnesses in the witness room, where her warm presence, soft coat and kind face are welcomed. “She works with anyone who needs their stress taken down,” said Towhey.
When off duty, Daisey can relax, take her vest off and play fetch down the hallway of the DA’s office and go for a walk. At night, several ADAs take turns bringing her home.
Dublin Veterinary Hospital has donated its services to care for Daisey. The district attorney’s office donated $600 to Canine Partners for Life, said Towhey.