In 2021 Stearns County added a golden retriever named Nova who was trained to work with victims who've dealt with a traumatic experience.  Nova was the first in the State of Minnesota to be allowed to accompany victims to the witness stand.  KSTP-TV in the Twin Cities did a story on the first instance where this was done.  National affiliate, Good Morning America ,on ABC picked up the story and spent 10 hours Tuesday with Stearns County officials including Stearns County Attorney Janelle Kendall.

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Kendall says the interview was intense with GMA with the bright cameras and she said you just don't know what they will use in the final edit.  Kendall isn't sure when the feature will air on GMA but expects it to run sometime in September.  Kendall says in the two cases Nova was allowed to appear in the courtroom with the victim she has really made a difference.  Kendall explains in both of these cases the victim suffered many years of abuse.  She says witnesses are asked to recount the abuse they suffered with the perpetrator present along with a group of complete strangers.  Kendall says Nova helps to calm victims and help get them through it.

Kendall says using dogs to assist victims in this manner has been done before both on the east and west coasts of the United States.  The idea to do this in Stearns County occurred to Kendall when she was on the board for the National District Attorneys Association.  States that used these dogs before Minnesota include Oregon, Washington and Maine.  There is an agency in Minnesota called "Helping Paws" that raises and trains dogs to assist in this way.  Kendall says golden retrievers and Labrador retrievers have been used based on their temperament.

If you'd like listen to my full conversation with Janell Kendall it is available below.  This story will be updated when the date of the airing of the Good Morning America feature will happen.



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