Facility Dogs Making a Difference in Criminal Justice

Lieutenant Nicholas and Facility Dog Yosa on the beachOn October 12, 2011, a gunman entered a hair salon in Seal Beach, California and shot nine people, killing all but one of the victims. All mass shootings are a tragedy, but for a community as small as Seal Beach, this devastated everyone. One of the Seal Beach Police Department’s biggest priorities following this incident was finding ways to help the community heal.

When Lieutenant Nick Nicholas, SBPD’s public information officer, found out about Canine Companions facility dogs, he immediately thought back to the salon massacre and how valuable a highly trained dog would have been in the days and weeks after it occurred. Lieutenant Nicholas was matched with Facility Dog Yosa in February.

“I am so incredibly grateful to Canine Companions for providing Yosa to the Seal Beach Police Department,” says Lieutenant Nicholas. “She is an incredible addition to our team and a very important resource in our mission to improve the quality of life for those in Seal Beach, especially with victims and witnesses of crime.”

“Yosa has provided comfort to parents following the death of their child, helped investigators interview victims, calmed the nerves of those who witnessed a fatal traffic accident and so much more.”

Canine Companions has nearly 500 facility dogs currently working across the country in a variety of settings including rehabilitation, education and the criminal justice system.

For witnesses and victims, sitting through interviews and preparing for trial is a very stressful time – especially for child witnesses, victims of domestic and elder abuse, and victims of sexual assault. Retelling and reliving those moments can be extremely difficult.

Yosa and her fellow facility dogs’ calm and loving demeanor is perfect for their roles in the criminal justice system. Their training in 45 specialized commands to assist during witness interviews, including providing deep pressure and remaining relaxed through stressful events, is an important asset.

Learn more about our facility dogs at canine.org/facilitydogs.