BATON ROUGE, LA (NBC 33/FOX 44)–
His name is Diesel IV. He’s a highly trained facility dog who’s been working with sex crimes victims through the East Baton Rouge Parish D.A.’s Office for more than two years now.
“Most sex crimes in our office, he is in the witness room with the victim before and after they testify, just kind of being a calming force,” says ADA Louise Hines, who’s one of Diesel’s two handlers.
Diesel is among a growing number of “Courthouse Facility Dogs” in the country. The Golden Retriever-Labrador mix was specificall chosen for the kind of work he does because of his easy-going nature and calm demeanor. Both of Diesel’s handlers say he was the right choice.
“I am a legal secretary in sex crimes. And so we get all of the sex crimes that come to the D-A’s office,” says Amy Files. “So I don’t know if I could do my job now if I did’t have him because some days are really tough. And he’s always here and he can sense it.”
Hines agrees, saying of four year old Diesel, “He likes to sit or lay down on someone who’s stressed out, on their feet, just like ‘Hey I’m here, I’m warm I’m furry, I’m calm, You can do this.’ “
For his part, Diesel knows more than forty commands. But for his job, Hines says, the most important command is “under”.
“And that’s go under the table, go under a bench, go under the witness stand. As you can see he really is okay with laying down wherever you put him.”
And that could come in handy very soon. A Baton Rouge judge recently ruled Diesel will be allowed to sit with a child set to testify in the trial of an accused rapist. Hines says Diesel has taken the stand with other victims in Juvenile Court. However, if this case does in fact go to trial, it would be Diesel’s first jury trial. The judge ordered a barrier be used to prevent the jury from seeing the dog under the witness stand, to avoid any distractions.