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Police department hires first therapy dog

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Rocky, a chocolate Labrador retriever, will help the department's smallest and most vulnerable victims. (KTRK)

The Davie Police Department has hired a therapy dog named Rocky for children who become victims of crime.

Two-year-old Rocky, a chocolate Labrador retriever, joined the department on Thursday, and will help the department's smallest and most vulnerable victims.

Rocky comes as part of a program that began in Central Florida: rescuing shelter dogs, and then training them for the force.

According to the department, when Rocky is around, children will feel more comfortable giving important details that can help track down criminals.

"Instead of the fear of talking to an adult, they see the dog, which gives them comfort," said Davie Police Detective Lisa Choquette. "It reduces their anxiety, and they feel more comfortable talking to us as investigators."

Rocky is registered with the Alliance of Therapy Dogs. He and Choquette attended an extensive, 40-hour training course in August.

Choquette said Rocky is an integral part of the department.

"I previously did investigations without Rocky, and it was very difficult to sit with a 5-year-old, a 6-year-old, a 7-year-old, because they're looking at us as we are: adults," she said. "They don't know us, they don't know who we are, and for them to tell their horrific story to us has got to be very stressful."
WSVN reports that the canine has already seen some success with a 15-year-old victim who refused to talk to investigators.

"Without him there, we would have never received from her, we would have not known who she was, where she was from and what had happened to her," Choquette said.

Rocky sits with the victims through each interview and as they meet with attorneys.

"You need the dog to be there for you when you're not having a good day, when you need somebody sitting there with you to comfort you and let you feel loved," Choquette said. "That's what Rocky does. Rocky brings that to these victims that need that during this crisis in their lives."

Part of Rocky's training includes going to the library where he sits with children as they read books aloud. After he first meets the victims with police, officers are introduced as "Rocky's friends."
Related Topics:
petstherapydogpoliceu.s. & worldFlorida
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