(CBS DETROIT) – A program that began supporting children through the criminal justice system has expanded its services.
“The Canine Advocacy Program, which started in 2010 and came under the Care House umbrella in 2022, is really about providing comfort and safety, at least that feeling of comfort, to children and adults who are victims of abuse or of abuse,” said Blythe Tyler, President and CEO of CARE House.
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CARE House of Oakland County is the first organization of its kind in Michigan, supporting traumatized children through Canine Advocates.
The organization now has its own dog, named Harper.
“Harper, as a dog advocate, is trained differently than a therapy dog or a service dog,” Tyler said.
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“In the case of an assistance dog, they are trained to help a person, and therefore their training is different. In terms of a therapy dog, a therapy dog has far less training than Harper. Harper, in particular, is trained to be loved, to be caressed, to be quiet, and to have lots of people approach her.
The program uses specially trained career-changing dogs to help children through anxious episodes like testimony and court appearances.
Currently, 31 dogs are actively working statewide, including two in the Oakland County District Attorney’s office.
“It’s hard to be able to talk about scary things, traumatic experiences, and it’s hard to process those feelings and thoughts. So Harper just provides a little extra, a little more support when kids need it,” said Tyler.
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