Alabama’s HERO program is harnessing the power of classic canine companions.
Classic Canine Companions Bring Comfort to Alabama’s Crime Victims
These four-legged heroes or the classic canine companions are proving to be more than just loyal pets – they are pillars of support for those navigating the challenging terrain of the criminal justice system. Spearheaded by Tamara Martin, the program introduces a statewide network of classic canine companions, each adept at assisting victims throughout their legal journey. The bond between these classic canine companions and their assigned victims transcends words. These classic canine companions, having undergone an intensive multi-day training, emerge equipped with an array of skills to aid victims. From child abuse to sexual abuse and elder abuse cases, the program stands ready to provide support in a variety of distressing scenarios. Each of Alabama’s counties has been assigned a team of 12 classic canine companions, ensuring that no victim has to face the process alone. Shawn Bentley, a dedicated handler, attests to the positive impact of these classic canine companions. “The dog really kind of helps them smile afterward and gives them hope,” he shares.
Having a friendly presence by their side as they navigate the intricacies of the criminal justice system provides victims with immeasurable comfort. This innovative approach introduces an element of companionship that is often absent in such situations. The collaboration between handlers and dogs goes beyond their initial training. Multiple times a year, the teams engage in training sessions to learn new tricks and techniques that can improve victims’ experiences. Tamara Martin emphasizes the importance of adapting to victims’ needs, particularly when dealing with children. These training sessions help build trust and provide victims with creative ways to engage with their classic canine companions. One might assume that the role of these dogs is limited to emotional support, but they are versatile partners. From cuddling and coloring to engaging in sports, these classic canine companions do it all. Their mere presence can brighten a victim’s day and instill a sense of hope. Thanks to grants from the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs, this program is accessible to victims without financial burden. For those seeking the aid of these classic canine companions, the HERO program’s website offers comprehensive details. With these faithful companions by their side, victims are finding solace and strength as they navigate the often daunting journey through the criminal justice system.