(FLORENCE, AZ) - Full of energy and curiosity, a new facility dog is helping calm and comfort potential victims of crime as they undergo forensic interviews.
Emmy, a two-year-old golden retriever, is now in service at the Pinal County Attorney’s Office Family Advocacy Centers.
A family advocacy center is where children undergo forensic interviews and where resources are provided to potential victims of crime.
Emmy helps comfort children who are dealing with a very traumatic situation.
“Emmy will come into the playroom [and] the kids usually immediately approach her,” said Melissa Taylor, who is the lead forensic interviewer and also Emmy’s handler.
Emmy underwent training for her role in order to properly interact with children, and can give hugs, play fetch and lay down next to the children.
“The kids are more relaxed when she’s around,” Taylor said.
Emmy has become a bright spot for the children who’ve had the chance to interact with her.
“The conversations usually start. They want to ask questions about her, so then I’m able to ask them questions about themselves,” Taylor said. “It’s nice having her help me break the ice with the kids. They’re much more relaxed.”
Taylor already noted an instance where a child was hesitant to talk and visibly upset, before Emmy came in the room and helped put the child at ease. Eventually, the child started to open up and the forensic interview was able to take place.
“Without Emmy, I don’t think that interview would have happened,” Taylor said.
Emmy will see an expanded role as her training progresses in the coming months.