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Mental Health Monday: Bonneville County Prosecuting Attorney welcomes facility dog to comfort victims

IDAHO FALLS, Idaho (KIFI) - There's a new member on the Bonneville County prosecuting attorney team.

Facility dog Solfi will soon be seen in Bonneville County courtrooms to bring comfort and support to victim-witnesses who have to testify.

"The dog can sit next to him. The dog can lay the snout on their foot or or sit next to them where they can just have a hand on it, whatever they need," Bonneville County prosecuting attorney Randy Neal said.

For some victim-witnesses, especially children, testifying on the stand can bring up trauma, making testifying difficult.

"For victims, it it's impactful. It's hard for them a lot of the times because it brings back what they went through all the way to their mind. It's almost like they're living it again. So it's very emotional," Bonneville County prosecuting attorney's office criminal investigator Christopher Terry said.

A legally neutral companion, like a dog, can help the most vulnerable witness feel more willing to describe what happened to them, more-so than a parent or someone who has the capability to pass any kind of judgment.

"Sometimes trying to do that, just be strong and get through it. Even if a parent is nearby, it's it's it's asking a lot. So that's where having something that that is just a little bit of a distraction, a little bit of a comfort close to you and a little bit of protection, frankly."

Solfi still has some training to do before she is able to assist at her full potential.

But she's already making a difference.

"We had a victim come in, I think it was a domestic violence situation. And when she came in, I noticed she was really nervous and kind of reserved. So I said, hey, we got to hold a puppy. She goes, I love puppies. And that changed the whole way of the interview. I was able to get all the information that I needed. She opened up to me. I wouldn't call it an icebreaker as much as it's a way to transfer your anxiety."

The hope is to get Solfi to the stand within six months to a year.

Article Topic Follows: Mental Health Monday

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Kailey Galaviz

Kailey is a morning anchor and reporter for Local News 8 and Eyewitness News 3


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