District Attorney Joyce Dudley recently launched a program to provide emotional support to victims and witnesses of Santa Barbara crimes. Malvern, a 2-year-old Labrador and golden retriever mix, is now available full-time in Dudley’s Santa Barbara office to comfort those dealing with the emotional, psychological, or physical effects of crime.
Dudley is pleased with the service Malvern has been able to provide so far. Since his official introduction to the office last Tuesday, the service dog has already been of assistance in a court case. Dudley recalls how a young woman, nervous about recounting the events of a recent crime, was presented with the dog, played with him for a few minutes, and soon felt calm enough to approach the stand and give her testimony.
Malvern was provided by Canine Companions for Independence, a nonprofit organization that trains and supplies service dogs to those in need. Equipping the office with this positive presence was a long and involved process spanning three years. In the end, Dudley and her staff were able to find a facility, make their way through the wait list, and train a dog for their needs at no cost to the county.
Volunteer attorney Donna Crawford is Malvern’s caretaker, after going through two weeks of training and screenings herself. Malvern was trained in several commands intended to bring a smile to those around him. Among his tricks are sit, visit, and lap.
Regarding the newest addition to her staff, Dudley said, “This dog was raised to love — Malvern has a calming effect on not only the victims but also on our staff of secretaries and attorneys alike.”
Depending on the success of the current program, Dudley will consider adding canine programs in her Lompoc and Santa Maria offices as well.