Therapy dog program hopes to clear out shelters

LAREDO, TX (KGNS) - A new program is hoping to address the increasing rate of dogs in the city animal shelter by also providing comfort for victims of sexual, physical, and emotional abuse.

This special therapy dog program is in the beginning stages, but Councilman Alberto Torres says pretty soon this program will unite dogs and humans that need a little extra love.

The idea is to be able to provide victims a therapy dog to serve as their partner during interviews, preliminary hearings, and jury trials in the courtroom. Torres says therapy dogs help relax victims and provide them with a sense of security.

So when it came to look for the four legged pals, they didn't have to look far.

These animals would be rescued from the city shelter and would undergo special training to become certified therapy animals with the help of the Laredo Police Department.

It's a way to lower the shelter's population and give these furry friends a second chance.

Ideally, a victim will find comfort with their therapy dog and adopt it. Torres says this will create cycle in which a new group of dogs from the shelter will be trained as therapy dogs, be paired and hopefully be adopted as well.

Judge Oscar Hale, Laredo PD, the city veterinary, and management are working on the logistics and are looking to the requirements to be able to certify the dogs and its handlers.

However, Torres estimates that in 30 days the pilot program will be introducing the first group of 3 to 4 dogs that will undergo training to kick off this initiative.

Torres says the special therapy dog program would be free to the victims that request the assistance.