St. Clair County's first courthouse advocate dog retires
A golden retriever named Bruin has offered comfort to witnesses in the St. Clair County Courthouse for five years. Now he’s passing on his leash and retiring.
The now 10-year-old dog worked in the Victim’s Advocacy Office. As a canine advocate, he comforted people on and off the witness stand. Courtney Carl, victim’s rights coordinator, said Bruin has been a blessing to have in the office.
“I fully believe that when it comes to trauma, dogs feel it and take it in,” she said. “He gives people that sense of comfort.”
Bruin mainly works with children 16 and younger. However, the Victim’s Advocacy Office has utilized him for witnesses of all ages.
Bruin had his retirement party on Friday in Judge Mona Armstrong’s courtroom. He received a recognition award, plaque and medal for his five years of service.
Before he was a court advocate dog, Bruin was a guide dog for a previous owner who was blind. When his owner’s health began to decline, he was given to the Canine Advocacy Program where he was trained to work in courtrooms. Bruin was also partially funded by P.S. You’re My Hero, a nonprofit that aids crime victims.
“He’s truly exceeded my expectations that I had for the program,” Carl said.
The Victim’s Advocacy Office already has a dog ready to fill Bruin’s space. Carbon, a 2-year-old black lab and golden retriever mix, will have his first day on Monday.
Carl said Bruin will be missed in the office. She said he has been like her sidekick for the past five years. She said people often come back to the Victim’s Advocacy Office just to see Bruin.
Bruin has helped people beyond St. Clair County. After the shooting at Oxford High School in 2021, Bruin was taken into classrooms to comfort the students. Recently, he was taken to a residence halls at Michigan State University after the shooting on Feb. 13. Carl said he comforted many of the international students who were unable to go home after the shooting.
“Seeing the impact Bruin can have on people, to support people where I can’t communicate, just shows how important of a program he’s in,” Carl said.
Bruin will live the rest of his days with St. Clair County Prosecutor Michelle Weeks.
Contact McKenna Golat at email@example.com or (810) 292-0122.
This article originally appeared on Port Huron Times Herald: St. Clair County's first courthouse advocate dog retires