September 5, 2019

Canine Advocacy Program

I’m always asked about how much I love my job and I won’t disagree, it’s a great job to have. If you love animals, it’s an amazing job. While spending my days with people’s pets is amazing, there are other aspects to this work that make it even more phenomenal.

I volunteer. A lot. AND I LOVE IT.

Through this volunteer work, I’m able to meet so many amazing people that work for little to no pay and they do it either to help animals or help people through animals and pets. I spent a little bit of time with one of these groups and I can’t get them out of my mind.

Dan with the Canine Advocacy Program (CAP) met me at the Oakland County District Court Building in Troy, MI to introduce me to two working dogs that he has helped to train. These dogs, through the program he helped to create, are trained to assist child victims who are being called as witnesses to testify. Are you crying yet? I’ll mail you some tissue. After meeting this bunch, I had to stop at Costco and stock up on my lifetime supply of Kleenex just to get me through the photo edits.

Freida smiling knowing she is doing good work.

While CAP has dogs in Metro-Detroit, Dan explained to me he has 30 dogs working all over the state of Michigan including two in the Upper Peninsula. He has trained 35 dogs and would love to expand the program and send more pups out to courtrooms that allow dog advocates.

We were able to meet in Troy, MI at the Oakland County 52-4 District Court in the courtroom of the Honorable Kirsten Nielsen Hartig. Judge Hartig allows these type of canine programs in her court and is an incredibly enthusiastic dog lover.

\Judge Hartig with two CAP dogs, Freida and Lance

While these children are prepping for their testimony, someone from CAP introduces them to “their” dog for the day and gives them instructions on how this pup will assist them through the process. They are given some time to get to know the dog and instantaneously a bond is formed. The canine advocate then accompanies the youth to the witness stand and sits with them to ease their anxiety and any tension they may have. This is especially important for those kids that are confronting abusers and perpetrators that have in some way hurt them.

All of the dogs entering into this program are from Leader Dogs for the Blind in Rochester Hills. The dogs that were not selected for assisting blind humans at Leader Dogs are typically found other homes and potentially positions that would still have them “working” like they are with CAP.

I wanted to share with you the amazing things humans are doing with the assistance of our pet friends to not only help others, but especially to help those that are the most vulnerable…. children.

If you would like to learn more about this Non-Profit, please visit their website at https://www.capmich.org. They are accepting donations to further assist in expanding and training new dogs.

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