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Tuesday, May 28, 2024
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Dusty & Coco, Laredo’s 1st Certified Police Therapy Dogs

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 The City of Laredo hosted a press conference in collaboration with Laredo Animal Care Services, the Laredo Police Department, and Webb County District Courts. Courtesy Images
 The City of Laredo hosted a press conference in collaboration with Laredo Animal Care Services, the Laredo Police Department, and Webb County District Courts. Courtesy Images

Texas Border Business

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LAREDO, Texas – The City of Laredo hosted a press conference in collaboration with Laredo Animal Care Services, the Laredo Police Department, and Webb County District Courts. The City of Laredo introduced an initiative in which shelter dogs are adopted to become therapy dogs for children that have been abused and are currently in a court proceeding. 

This initiative was originally led by Council Member Alberto Torres, Jr. in 2020. As this program continues to gain nationwide popularity, more dogs are saved from homelessness and euthanasia as they are trained to make a big impact on child abuse victims. 

“Judge Oscar Hale came to us with the idea of this program after adopting a dog from the local shelter himself”, said Council Member Alberto Torres, during the presentation. “Two years later, here we are seeing how successful and fruitful this initiative was for the City, the judicial and justice system, but above all for the lives that we start to save of our four-legged friends”.

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The Laredo Police Department has been vital in order to make this program take its course by the leadership of Deputy Chief, Enedina Martinez, under the direction of Chief Claudio Trevino. Officers Cesar Esquivel and Vito Cardenas recently completed their training together with their shelter dogs, Dusty and Coco. These dogs were selected from the local animal shelter to train with K-9 handlers in Florida, making them the first-ever certified police therapy dogs and handlers in Laredo, Texas. 

“When we were presented with this idea, although it is not something new in policing, it is new here in South Texas, especially in Laredo. We knew how important it is to expand the service beyond the contact that we have with victims on the streets and being able to task these officers with their canine partners”, said Police Chief Claudio Trevino. “After selecting the officers, we were to identify the canines from the Laredo Animal Care Services facility; although many would like to adopt a puppy in an effort to teach and see it grow into a therapy dog, it is not impossible to get a mature dog, that needs to be saved, that needs a home, for this opportunity to serve the community of Laredo.”

In an effort to ease intimidation and anxiety, child abuse victims are allowed to testify in a courtroom with trained therapy dogs beside them in the witness box. In 2019, the Senate passed Texas Senator John Cornyn’s Courthouse Dogs Act, allowing comfort dogs into the courtroom to help upset witnesses to testify. The act clarified the authority of judges to allow trained and certified emotional assistance animals into their courtrooms.

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