Good girl! Ada County Court dog helps comfort victims

Sunday, the Ada County court dog, helps victims feel comforted while testifying (Lauren Clark KBOI).

For many victims, the task of testifying in court can be overwhelming.

"The criminal justice system can be extraordinarily traumatic for people as they go through the process," said Ada County Prosecutor Jan Bennetts. "The foreign environment, a big courtroom for children, it can be daunting and intimidating"

But for some, that intimidation begins to melt away, the moment a furry four legged employee walks through the door.

Sunday is a yellow Labrador mix, who has an important job at the court house. She's a comfort dog, offering her sweet eyes, warm golden fur, and wet nose to calm down vulnerable victims of any age.

"She's so calm," said Bennetts. "You walk in, meet her, and immediately your blood pressure goes down."

Her handler Kristen Friend, who's along a victim witness coordinator, says it's a job she was born to do.

"It's really amazing. Sunday has a really keen way of knowing who to help and when they need it," said Friend.

For eight years, her paws have walked through these halls. Victims can meet her while meeting with the prosecutor. They can pet or rub her ears to help ease nerves. She's even shared naps with some of the kids after long days in court.

"I think she really does like working here," said Friend. "She's pretty big on her job, never heard any complaints about her coming into work!"

Sunday's biggest role is to help victims during their testimony in court. Hidden behind the witness stand, she's so quiet, the jury can't even tell she's there.

"It helps the kids feel safe, more secure," said Friend. "We utilize a service leash with her, so a lot of times children like to hold on to that to feel more in control in an out of control situation."

Friend says Sunday is more than a dog to these victims--she's a true friend. Sunday even has her own trading cards kids can take home, so they can hold onto a positive memory from the experience.

So while people and crimes may lead victims here---they can leave with the gift of gentleness and compassion in the form of a furry friend.

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