In Colorado, victims and witnesses who might, for various reasons, have trouble sharing details of a crime with a police officer now have another option — Pella, a Labrador-golden retriever mix who is both kid-friendly and judgment-free.
Pella began her service with the Aurora Police Department this summer, and while she doesn’t track down criminals, the hope is she can help put them behind bars.
Her main role is to work with children and developmentally-disabled adults during the beginnings of investigations, providing some comfort and emotional support when they are interviewed by authorities.
“It’s hard for anyone regardless of their state in life, their age, their background, their ethnicity … to talk to police. It’s just an uncomfortable situation. Pella can just help that anxiety to lessen a bit,” Amber Urban, who’s behind the program, told 9 News in Denver.
Urban was working as a school-resource officer when she started pondering how dogs — outside of tracking suspects and detecting drugs — could help the legal system.
Through Paws Assisting the Legal System, she brought Pella to the Aurora Police Department to work with its Crimes Against Children Unit.
The program is similar to the Courthouse Dogs program that is already in place in other cities.
Pella works a lot at SungateKids, a center where forensic interviewers talk to kids and adults who have either witnessed a crime or been victims of one.
“They’re here to talk about things that are traumatic. They, depending on their age, may not have that recognition of it being traumatic, but they feel it,” Urban said.
Children often pet Pella and hold on to her leash while they’re talking.
“…It’s a little bit better of a connection for a lot of kids to be able to interact with the dog who has no judgment, no opinion. The kids see that and they’re like, ‘Wow, they just like me.’”
Posted by jwoestendiek November 9th, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: amber urban, aurora, aurora police department, children, colorado, comfort, courthouse dogs, courts, crimes, developmentally disabled, emotional, golden retriever, labrador retriever, law enforcement, pals, paws assisting the legal system, pella, sungate kids, support, victims, witnesses
Patrick Caleb Land, 25, was sentenced Friday to five years and four months in state prison.
“These crimes were committed with callous violence and a serious punishment is warranted,” Judge Charles Rogers said.
The maximum possible sentence was eight years, but the judge took into account Land’s guilty plea, that Land was born to a drug-using mother and that he was beaten in his youth by an adoptive mother, according to 10 News in San Diego.
According to prosecutors, Land called his girlfriend Natasha Strain last year and told her that he had come home to find Josh, her 8-year-old Golden Retriever mix, dead.
Three weeks later, he called her again to tell her that he had found her other two dogs, Jackie, a 9-year-old white shepherd mix, and Pikanik, a 50-pound mixed breed, dead in a bedroom.
No necropsy was performed in the first case, but a veterinarian determined the second two animals were beaten to death.
Prosecutors said there was evidence of attempts to suffocate the animals, and that the defendant’s DNA was found under one of the dogs’ nails.
At a preliminary hearing, a roommate of the couple testified that Land sometimes complained that Strain spent more time with her dogs than she did with him.
Posted by jwoestendiek November 21st, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: abuse, accused, animals, beaten, beating, boyfriend, courts, crimes, cruelty, dna, dog, dogs, five years, guilty, killed, natasha strain, patrick caleb land, pets, prison, san diego, sentence, three dogs
A California man with a history of violence was sentenced Friday to more than 25 years in prison for beating his former girlfriend’s cocker spaniel to death with a hammer.
The conviction was a third strike for Alex Castro, leading in part to the lengthy sentence, according to the San Jose Mercury News.
Castro, 48, of Milpitas, said the sentence was too much for killing a dog — and that he should get no more than the maximum three-year sentence for animal cruelty. The judge said he could not ignore the violence Castro inflicted in his life, according to the prosecutor.
“I am appreciative that not only did a jury take this case incredibly seriously, as evidenced by their verdict, but also that the judge did,” said Deputy District Attorney Kevin Smith. “Despite the defendant’s claims he was getting too much time for ‘only killing a dog,’ he is getting this sentence for the violence in his past.”
A drywall worker, Castro was sentenced to 25 years to life for the 2007 dog killing, but with enhancements to his sentence, the earliest he’d be eligible for parole is 33 years, Smith said.
Posted by jwoestendiek September 28th, 2009 under Muttsblog.
Tags: 25 years, alex castro, animal, cocker spaniel, conviction, copper, courts, crimes, cruelty, dog, dogs, harges, killed, killing, law, lengthy, milipitas, murder, sentence