ST. LOUIS, MO – In tonight’s does of good news… There’s a dog working for the St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office.
His only job is to make victims and witnesses feel comfortable, and he does it all with the wag of a tail.
He has been called an invaluable member of the St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorneys Office.
Except this team member doesn’t come with a brief case… but a leash.
Levi is the St. Louis County Courthouse Facility dog.
His handler Lisa Jones is the Program Manager of the Victims Unit.
Together, Lisa and Levi work mostly with their child sexual abuse and child abuse teams.
“We typically use him when children had to come in to meet with prosecutors either to talk about the victimization we’ve also used him to go with victims to depositions.” Says Jones.
Levi has been with the office for 3 years and Lisa says his presence has a way of magically melting away some of the stress a victim may have.
“We ask victims to come in a court to come into our office and talk about the absolute worst experience they have ever gone through and so it’s a daunting task and they’re talking about things that are violent that are private that are frightening.” Says Jones.
Levi sits right next to the victims, curls up at their feet, and when they need a little extra support, he knows when to put his head on their lap or nudge their hand for a pet.
Levi is used in the courtroom as an extra layer of safety for victims.
“We used him recently with a little girl she got to the edge of the courtroom and said I don’t think I can do this. We told her Levi doesn’t get to testify all that often and he is nervous too and it would help Levi if she would be with him when she goes in there and so she took a hold of his leash and walked up holding his ear she sat on the witness stand he curled up at her feet and she did beautifully.” Says Jones.
Levi was donated to the courthouse by Duo Dogs.
“He was specifically chosen for our particular purposes because during the course of his training they found he is incredibly responsive to doing just this… He can stay at a down stay for hours which is sometimes needed when adults and children need to testify in court.” Says Jones.
And beyond making victims and witnesses feel calm he also roams the halls visiting staff, attorneys, and judges.
“When myself or other attorneys have to be in court we are suited up we have to keep him off of us because of the dog hair but other than that he pretty much has free rein.” Says Wesley Bell, Prosecuting Attorney.
Bell says what Lisa and Levi do everyday is life changing.
“They are tremendous advocates for victims of crimes and they are so passionate about what they do.” Says Bell.