PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — For the first time in the 10th Judicial circuit, a facility Dog was sworn in at the Peoria County Courthouse Wednesday.
During a swearing-in ceremony, the two-year-old black lab Kiwi was sworn in as a facility dog for the Peoria County State’s Attorney’s office. In her new role, Kiwi will assist children who have been victims or witnesses of violent crimes as they navigate the criminal justice system.
Peoria County state’s Attorney Jodi Hoos said the process of bringing Kiwi onto the staff has taken a little over two years, and Kiwi has been training since she was a puppy.
“I really wanted to have a facility dog for children who are either victims or witnesses of violent crime, we all know that coming to court is terrifying, and I wanted to ease that process as much as I could,” Hoos said. “So we figured if we get a comfort dog for them, to be here when they meet with the attorneys, to be here when they actually go into court and testify, this could be a good thing, and maybe help the child overcome the difficulty they otherwise may have.”
Kiwi has two certified handlers in the State’s Attorney’s Office, one of whom is Kiwi’s primary handler. When not working in the State’s Attorney’s Office, Kiwi also helps with interviews in the Children’s Advocacy Center.
Hoos said she believes Kiwi enjoys her new job.
“I think she enjoys it, my office does, and the children who have been a part of this so far have enjoyed it too,” Hoos said.