The district attorney’s Bureau of Victim Services announced two unusual hires Monday to help support victims of child abuse and sexual assault.
New K-9 employees Skippy and Bert can be spotted walking around the downtown Hall of Justice with their handlers, Martha Carbajal and Ashley Meyers.
Skippy is a yellow Labrador retriever and Bert is a golden retriever and yellow lab mix.
Both are dubbed “facility dogs.” Unlike other K-9 teams trained to sniff out drugs, explosives and other dangers, facility dogs learn dozens of cues to help them work with victims of crime.
Scientific research shows that caressing an animal produces short-term decreases in blood pressure and heart rate and can also make people feel less lonely.
For many victims, working with prosecutors or testifying publicly triggers negative mental and physical responses. Petting a facility dog during interviews and court testimony can help provide a sense of calm and security, according to the District Attorney’s Office.
Skippy and Bert started training at 6 weeks old and passed a public access test after a year of work.
“Although their duties are unconventional in the law enforcement community, Bert and Skippy fight crime in a new way,” according to a D.A’s statement. “The facility dogs offer non-judgmental support and a shoulder to cry on for some of the most fragile victims in Los Angeles County.”