Four-legged pal joins staff at Children’s Advocacy Center

ST. JOSEPH — The Children’s Advocacy Center of Southwest Michigan recently obtained a service dog to serve the children of southwest Michigan.

Pawnee is a 15-month-old female chocolate lab who came to the CAC through the Canine Advocacy Program in collaboration with the Leader Dogs for the Blind program in Rochester Michigan.

Pawnee is a “career change” dog who was deemed not compatible with the Leader Dog for the Blind program and was career changed into the Canine Advocacy Program. She is trained to provide emotional support to people, and especially children. She will be utilized as a support animal in a therapeutic setting, and as a calming presence for children and adults in the community who are partaking in abuse prevention lessons offered by the CAC.

Pawnee will also be able to work with clients of the Children’s Advocacy Center during their court prep in the mock courtroom located in our agency. Once at the courthouse, the children will be able to testify with the help of another CAP dog “Mr. Weeber,” who works at the Berrien County Courthouse.

The Children’s Advocacy Center of Southwest Michigan is a nonprofit agency that assists in the prevention, investigation, and treatment of child abuse in Berrien, Cass and Van Buren Counties. The organization’s mission is to support children through a coordinated response to child abuse and neglect and we are excited to now have Pawnee to provide additional support and comfort to the children we serve.

The CAC’s principal program, established in 2002, carries out this mission through a multidisciplinary approach to the investigation and treatment of child abuse. Since that time, the Children’s Advocacy Center has served almost 7,000 children who were alleged to have been victims of sexual or severe physical abuse. The CAC’s highly-trained forensic interviewers conduct developmentally appropriate, legally-sound interviews of child victims, and licensed therapists provide crisis counseling and on-going therapy to child victims and their non-offending family members.

The CAC also seeks to prevent child abuse by offering age appropriate, school-based, prevention education to children ages pre-K to 12th grade, as well as education for adults who work in child-serving settings. All these services are always provided at no cost to the individuals, schools or organizations.

CAC officials say they are thrilled to be adding Pawnee to their dedicated staff. Those interested in making a donation to the CAC for Pawnee’s expensive should call the organization at (269) 556-9640.

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