When Terry Pearson of Hooktown Holidays visited the Warren County Children’s Advocacy Center in Warren, he was impressed. But he noticed that one thing was missing.
“The only thing I haven’t seen here is some kind of dog” Pearson said.
Executive Director and forensic interviewer Melissa McLean agreed that it would be good if the center could have a service dog.
But, due to the cost, it was more of a “Bucket list” item as something that was on his radar at close range.
That was until Hooktown Holidays set up a special project to help the center buy a dog.
Hooktown’s mission statement is specific – “Funds given to Hooktown Holidays go directly to the community to help people who live without necessity” Pearson said. Funding for a service dog, no matter how small the need, was not up to par. So officials had to create a separate funding stream.
“I started going out and asking for funds to provide this animal”, he said.
After about a year – interrupted like everything else by the COVID-19 pandemic – Pearson, on behalf of the Hooktown Holidays Children’s Advocacy Center Project, handed McLean a check for $ 10,000 to purchase the dog.
The next step is to find the right person, McLean said.
The dog, specially trained in several ways, will bring comfort to children, already on fragile emotional ground, who must talk about their experiences and sometimes testify in court in order to prevent someone from causing them further harm and harm. ‘other.
McLean worked with the Courthouse Dogs Foundation. Service dogs are typically Golden Retrievers or Labrador Retrievers raised and trained for a calm, submissive temperament.
“We are not just looking at a dog that is going to distribute here every day”, she said.
“If children pull their tails or their ears, they don’t react” McLean said. “Dogs have empathy. They listen to these heightened emotions.
“The first mandate would be to have the dog available for forensic interviews”, McLean said.
But the role of the dog would go beyond.
“The courthouse is a scary place”, McLean said. “For the children, it’s a lot.
Assistance dogs are sometimes permitted in a courtroom.
The dog may need “Spend two hours on the witness stand when a child testifies in court”, she said.
The dog must be able to go unnoticed and would be brought in and out of court in the absence of the jury.
If the jury noticed the dog, the defense could argue that its presence generated additional sympathy for a victim.
Whenever the dog is with a child or someone else who needs it, the role is the same. “It’s a feeling of comfort, a feeling of peace” McLean said.
There will be no dogs arriving at the center in the next few weeks.
“Once we are matched with a dog, we are probably looking at another year,” McLean said.
But, the dollars will speed up the process.
Being able to tell the Courthouse Dogs Foundation and other entities that the community – not a public official – raised the money “Means for them that the project has the support of the community”, McLean said.
Children are not the only ones to benefit from the presence of a CAC foster dog.
“Secondary trauma is one of those areas that is important and I think the dog will help with that as well,” McLean said.
Secondary trauma affects people who need to see the impacts and hear the details of “some horrible, horrible things,” she said.
“One in 10 children will be sexually assaulted before their 18th birthday”, she said. “A very small percentage of children actually disclose while they are children or even adults.”
Hooktown’s donation will either fully fund the training and purchase of the dog or be very close, McLean said.
Pearson has indicated that Hooktown may continue to accept donations specific to the facility’s dog. Phase 2 of this project includes the provision of food, veterinary care, grooming and necessary equipment.
By raising money for the dog, Hooktown continued its primary mission and contributed over $ 11,000 to “The entities that we always support”, Pearson said. The next step for the organization is the fall charity garage sale. Hooktown is accepting items for the sale which will take place, along with a chicken barbecue, on September 10 and 11.