Newest Victim Specialists Hit the Ground Running on All Fours

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News from the Office of District Attorney George Gascón


November 17, 2016

Twitter: @GeorgeGascon

CONTACT:                    ALEX BASTIAN (415) 553-1931
                                     MAXWELL SZABO (415) 553-9089


Canine Duo Offer Support in Challenging Circumstances

SAN FRANCISCO – Today, San Francisco District Attorney George Gascón announced that two highly-trained professionals would be sworn-in to assist the Victim Services Division as part of the ongoing effort to support vulnerable victims of crime.  The furry four-legged specialists, 18-month-old Pink and 14-month-old Red, are the latest members of a pioneering effort to mitigate the stress and trauma that can accompany victimization using science-supported canine therapy.

"Our legal system can be a complex and intimidating environment, especially for vulnerable victims, kids, the elderly and anyone who has been subjected to trauma," said District Attorney George Gascón.  “Facility dogs can help reduce the anxiety that is often associated with the difficult circumstances under which people come into contact with the system.”  

Numerous studies have documented the positive impact of victims’ physical and emotional health by interacting with Facility Dogs including short-term decreases in blood pressure and heart rate, positive effects on social communication, reductions of feelings of loneliness and isolation, and improvements in depression and self-esteem. Facility dogs can also assist in decreasing anxiety and fear for victims engaged in interview, exam and legal proceedings.

The emotional support dogs come to the San Francisco District Attorney’s Office from a Santa Fe, New Mexico non-profit, Assistance Dogs of the West, and are trained to work with children, adults with disabilities, and people in crisis in busy legal environments.