For the first time, a highly-trained dog taught to comfort the most vulnerable of victims will be able to help kids in Bernalillo County.
“He went from kind of a clueless puppy to a dog going on to help someone in our community,” said Neve Naktin, a youth trainer at Assistance Dogs of the West in Santa Fe.
Naktin has been training ‘Woodstock’ since he was a puppy. Naktin and her black lab train alongside dozens of other dogs and young trainers to become a Courthouse Facility Dog.
They’re dogs trained by kids, to help other kids.
“These dogs have been exposed to children their entire lives,” said Linda Milanesi, the Executive Director of Assistance Dogs of the West.
The dogs trained at ADW will comfort kids as they face whoever hurt them.
“The dogs are trained to go in the witness box,” said Milanesi.
They will also be there for them through what can be a years-long legal process.
“Those special victims advocate and that dog are the consistent presence as the crime gets investigated,” said Milanesi.
Milanesi says just looking at a dog lowers kids’ heart rates and blood pressure. Some court officials have seen it happen first hand.
“She said what takes my highly skilled and highly trained staff hours to accomplish, [service dog] Russell can take care of in 10 minutes,” said Milanesi.
Due to their success, the dogs are in high demand.
“We have dogs all over the country,” said Milanesi.
After sending more than 40 dogs to far away courthouses, Woodstock is staying in New Mexico and will be there for kids in Bernalillo County.
Naktin is a little sad to see him go but knows her once wild puppy is going to do a lot of good.
“Now he’s grown up and he’s getting ready to be placed,” said Naktin.
There is not a set start date for Woodstock at the Bernalillo County Courthouse.
The district courts in Taos and Roswell already have court service dogs.
There is also a dog stationed on the Pojoaque Pueblo who is the first tribal court dog in the country.