OCEAN COUNTY – Victims of crime sometimes have a hard time talking about their experience. Opening up is difficult. Opening up to law enforcement is even more difficult. To make it easier, the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office has added a furry friend that can step in and lend a paw!
The newest team member is Jimmy, a 3-year-old black lab mix service dog. Jimmy stands at the ready to assist the Victim Witness Advocates in the effort to emotionally support victims of crime.
Jimmy found his way to OCPO through a New Jersey based company called Merlin’s KIDS, a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing individually trained service dogs to those in need. Jimmy was abandoned and rescued from a shelter by Merlin’s KIDS. He received over 1,000 hours of general and specialty training over a period of 15 months and is specifically trained to be used in a school or court setting.
“It is our hope that engaging with Jimmy will help to calm victims and witnesses, and let them tell their story,” stated Carol Froberg, Victim Witness Director for the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office of Victim Witness Advocacy and Jimmy’s primary handler. Carol added “our office recognizes that animals, unlike people, with whom our interactions may be quite complex and unpredictable, provide a constant source of comfort and focus for attention. Animals tend to bring out our nurturing instinct and make us feel safe and unconditionally accepted. The successful prosecution of a victim’s case often depends on the ability of a victim to accurately report and then testify regarding the details of the victimization – Jimmy can help us achieve that goal!”