Newest Dale County Court Officer Lends a Helping Paw to Stressful Juvenile Cases

Approximately 14% of Americans report that something as simple as their home decor can make them feel stressed out, but being in court can bring on a whole new wave of stress, especially in juvenile cases. That’s why Dale County has a new, four-legged official helping them out.

Kit is the first canine court officer in Alabama, and her journey began in prison. The idea came from the late David Grice, a former Dale County probation officer who was well-versed in all of the benefits that a service dog could bring to children.

Dale County Juvenile Probation Officer Jeremy Varney told the Dothan Eagle that at first, he was skeptical about the idea of a canine court officer. Now, Varney says he’s one of Kit’s biggest supporters.

“I am pleased to have her serve as my partner,” he added.

Kit is three years old and began her journey when she was rescued by Service Dogs of Alabama. After her rescue, Kit was brought to an Alabama women’s prison where she underwent more than a year of training. Once her training there was complete, she had to undergo another two-and-a-half years of training before she was able to officially join the Dale County court officer team.

Her skills were rigorously tested before she could begin her new position, but she passed every test with flying colors.

“[Kit] is very good at her job. She has several duties as court officer, and she takes her job very seriously,” Varney said. He added that she has helped in a large number of juvenile cases since starting her new job.

Varney explained that having Kit present when trying to talk to a child helps “tear down the walls” and “removes the anxiety and stress” from the situation. Kit’s job is to approach a child and let them know they’re not alone and that they’re safe.

But Varney and Kit’s relationship extends beyond the office. Varney said that when the gear is off, Kit knows that it’s playtime. He added that Kit is an excellent family dog who gets along well with his daughter.

The Dale County Juvenile Probation Department has continued to praise Kit’s work, as well as the grant through Service Dogs of Alabama that made her position possible.