The office of San Francisco's District Attorney gained two new employees — but unlike (one assumes) the rest of the staff there, these recent hires walk around without pants, eat off the floor, and relieve themselves outdoors.
That's because, says spokesperson Max Szabo, they are dogs. Pink, an 18-month-old female Labrador Retriever and Red, a 14-month-old male Golden Retriever/Labrador mix were sworn in to the office of George Gascón Thursday "to assist the Victim Services Division as part of ongoing effort to support vulnerable victims of crime."
Both pups are products of Assistance Dogs of the West, a Santa Fe, New Mexico non-profit that according to their website trains "facility dogs for work in professional group settings from private therapeutic practices, to drug treatment centers, to college campuses, to judicial districts."
KRON 4 reports that each dog cost $35,000 to "breed, raise, and train," fees covered by a state grant.
In this case, Szabo says, Pink and Red will "work with children, adults with disabilities, and people in crisis in busy legal environments" as part of "a pioneering effort to mitigate the stress and trauma that can accompany victimization using science-supported canine therapy."
Both dogs have also met with San Francisco Superior Court judges, in hopes that they may eventually be allowed into the courtroom to soothe witnesses and victims during trials.
In a press event Thursday at the Hall of Justice, Gascón placed an official medallion on both dogs, declaring them official victim specialists. "We often interview victims and witnesses that are under a lot of stress," Gascón said at the ceremony.
"There has been plenty of proof that well trained facility dogs can help witnesses and victims relax and be able to deal with what is often very stressful situations, especially when they have been traumatized."