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Courthouse Companion Dog provides support to victims, witnesses impacted by crime

LANCASTER COUNTY -- A cuddly companion is now providing emotional support to victims and witnesses impacted by criminal matters in Lancaster County.

Courthouse Companion Dog, ‘Tresi,’ has been working for about two months as a member of the District Attorney’s Office.

A 2½-year-old yellow Lab, Tresi is a calming friend for victims and witnesses and a comforting presence at emotional/high-stress meetings over criminal proceedings and other discussions of cases. Tresi also serves as a diversion for people waiting for their case to be called.

District Attorney Craig Stedman brought Tresi aboard at no cost to the taxpayer.

“We can deliver in the courtroom, but there is the whole other side of things the public does not see: The emotional trauma of many victims and their families, and that is where Tresi comes in,” District Attorney Stedman said. “Tresi is a living example of our commitment to doing all we can to make things less painful for those who have already suffered.

“Victims come to us at what is often the worst time of their lives and we have to have difficult and emotional conversations with them. Tresi has already made a difference in easing some of those tensions and gaining trust, especially with our most vulnerable victims - children.”

In her first two months of work – which began with “placement days” to become acclimated to the office – Tresi has provided support for 14 children and 35 adults who are in some way impacted by the criminal justice system.

“Just seeing how people and children have responded already has made me realize we have a tremendous addition to our staff,” Stedman said.

Tresi has attended 11 meetings, nine preliminary hearings, a guilty plea hearing and a sentencing. She has gone into court for several proceedings.

Tresi was raised by a volunteer in a puppy home for the Canine Partners for Life for her first year.

Her primary handler is Karin Young, an advocate in the District Attorney’s Office. Several other members of the DA’s office are also trained to handle her.

Source: Lancaster County District Attorney's Office