Springfield's Child Advocacy Center grows staff with facility dog, Java

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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3/KSPR) - The staff at the Child Advocacy Center has a new team member, she loves long walks and the occasional treat. She is a 2-year-old Golden Retriever named Java.

"Dogs are shown to lower blood pressure and reduce stress, so just her presence, kind of doing this, we hope will help kids feel more comfortable whenever they're here," said one of Java's handlers and Forensic Interviewer for the Child Advocacy Center, Nicole Schrock. Schrock and fellow Forensic Interviewer Jen Leek are Java's handlers. Java's primary job will be to comfort children when they come in for interviews after a potentially abusive or neglectful situation.

Leek and Schrock talked about some of Java's qualifications, saying she knows 40 different commands that she must practice daily. Java also requires at least 40 minutes of exercise a day and has a daily grooming routine. "I have to do a once over check, just check her ears, and her teeth, and just general appearance, make sure she is good," said Schrock.

Right now, Java is getting acquainted with the sights and sounds at the Child Advocacy Center. Next week, she is expected to start attending practice forensic interviews. Come May, she'll be ready to comfort kids who walk through the door.

Schrock and Leek talked about how thankful they are to have Java by their side. Jen Leek said while they have to follow state guidelines during forensic interviews, Java can give the comfort they can't. "We sometimes can't respond in the way that we would want to, we have to follow our protocol and so that limits our natural responses sometimes," began Leek. "Having Java there is such a cool extension of myself or of Nicole, that she can just be there and the kids can just pet her, or Java can just lay at their feet, or whatever helps that child feel comfortable."

Java's handlers said she is valued at $27,000. She was trained at Duo in St. Louis. Duo is a specialized assistance dog provider and training organization. Java was completely free for the Child Advocacy Center.

Java will work at the Child Advocacy Center until she is 10-years-old. After that, she will retire.

Read the original version of this article at www.ky3.com.