After a year-and-a-half long process, the Ellis County and District Attorney’s Office has received its courthouse dog, Verity, a 2-year-old Labrador retriever placed with the office through Canine Companions for Independence. Her name means “the state or quality of being true.”
The idea for a facility dog came to me several years ago, after attending a conference in Little Rock,” Ellis County and District Attorney Patrick Wilson said in a statement. “It’s wonderful to finally see the result of what has been a surprisingly long and difficult process. Grace Pandithurai is one of my senior prosecutors and she really stepped up to the plate to see the process through. I can’t thank her enough.
“It’s amazing what dogs like Verity can do to provide comfort to people who have been through unbelievably tragic experiences,” Wilson said. “She has already proven her weight in gold just by comforting our staff, who deal with terrible things on a daily basis.”
Verity will be at the courthouse every day, ready and willing to help bring comfort to victims and witnesses as they prepare for trial or the resolution of their case. She has received extensive professional training through Canine Companions to be well-mannered and calm, but also comforting and reassuring for people experiencing trauma.
“One of her most impressive skills is called, ‘cover,’ ” said Pandithurai, one of Verity’s handlers. “When someone is experiencing anxiety or stress, Verity will lay over the person’s legs, providing pressure and allowing the body to naturally calm itself and destress.”
“The criminal justice system is not an easy process for anyone,” Wilson said. “It often involves trauma within families and our communities. The addition of Verity to our staff is just one way we can try to make the process a little easier for those we serve.”
The nonprofit Canine Companions for Independence has eight facility dogs placed in the criminal justice system throughout Texas. Each dog was trained and placed for free.
“We are excited to bring this partnership to Ellis County and to serve our community in a new way,” a spokesman said.
For more information about Canine Companions, visit www.cci.org or call 1-800-572-BARK.