The National Children's Advocacy Center is proud to introduce its newest member, Wilson, a 2-year-old Labrador and Golden Retriever mix.
Wilson is a major help in cases that involve victims of abuse. He helps victims with forensic interviews while testifying in court. He also helps during therapy sessions with abuse victims.
The advocacy center said Wilson was given to them at no cost, and he's one of five dogs in the state that's been specially trained to sit through a forensic interview.
Wilson is not the only dog that works at the center, but he has privileges no other canine companion in Huntsville has.
Wilson has been in Huntsville for a month and during that time, the National Children's Advocacy Center says he's already helped victims more than 60 times.
"We had a little girl that had been sexually abused by her step father. She was not ready to disclose, thought she'd be in trouble. She was shaking. She was nervous. She had just come from her sexual assault exam," Paula Wolfteich, a forensic interviewer, said.
Wilson will also be able to travel to court with victims, since Governor Kay Ivey passed a law in 2017 that allows therapy dogs in court rooms.
"Wilson accompanied her into the interview room and sat on the sofa with her. She petted him the entire time, and gradually, you saw her anxiety go down. She wasn't shaking anymore, and she was able to talk about the things that she had experienced and her trauma," Wolfteich said.
The center said the bond Wilson will have with victims will help comfort them throughout their cases.
"He will able to go to therapy with her and if and when she does have to go to court to testify, he can be right up there at the witness stand with her," Wolfteich said.
The other dogs like Wilson are located in central and south Alabama.