Posted: 11/13/2020 / 2:41 PM MST
Updated: November 13, 2020 / 2:41 pm MST
GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. – The 21st Law Firm has partnered with the Center for Children to provide a new resource for child abuse victims who guide the investigation and prosecution of their cases. Beginning January 2021, a highly skilled facility dog named Rachael will testify to child abuse survivors in their forensic interviews, mental health therapy sessions, and in court.
“Time and again we see that the key to successfully tracking down child and sexual abuse, and our ability to help a child heal, lies in a child’s ability to calmly and descriptively report their abuse. District Attorney Dan Rubinstein said. “Trained dogs like Rachael have been shown to help with this important endeavor, and we couldn’t be more excited to partner with the Center for Children to help keep these children safe.”
Rachael comes from Oceanside, CA, to Mesa County, CO where she was trained by Canine Companions for Independence®. In September, Rachael was compared to Ashley Edstrom, an employee of the 21st judicial district law firm. The partnership will split their time between the center for children and the Mesa County courthouse with offices in both locations. Its official start date is January 1, 2021; Rachael is currently comfortable in her new environment and meets the staff in every building.
“Our goal is to bring peace to this inquiry process and to make it easier for every child we serve,” said Mistalynn Meyeraan, director of the Center for Children. “Rachael will sit quietly with children who have been physically or sexually abused as they tell their story to our trained forensic interviewers. She will be on the couch with children when they begin the healing process and speak to our psychotherapists, and she will be at the feet of child survivors who will bring their perpetrators to justice. “
Interesting facts about Rachael:
- Nickname: Lima Bean
- Date of birth: June 17, 2018
- Breed: Labrador Retriever
- Favorite toy: Frisbee
- Canine Companions for Independence® donated Rachael to our community
- The grant funding was secured for Ashley Edstrom’s salary
- Rachel’s puppy breeder was an inmate of the Naval Consolidated Brig Miramar. They have an active puppy rearing program and are currently raising 9 puppies. This inmate was responsible for teaching her the basics to prepare for her professional training at Canine Companions for Independence®. Rachael is the 2nd Facility Dog to hold this role in Mesa County. Tilly served children in the 21st District Attorney’s Office and Center for Children for three years until they retired in July 2019.