Abused Husky Stands by Children as They Have Their Day in Court
Children who suffer abuse and neglect often end up having to testify against their accusers in order for any type of justice to happen. For the children, who have already suffered unimaginable torments, that testifying can be enough to give them even more anxiety and trauma.
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A Siberian Husky named Patriot offers companionship and a shared experience to at-risk children in Orange County, CA. Patriot’s human, Kevin Marlin, says he adopted Patriot as a puppy from the Orange County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SCSPCA). Patriot suffered from torment and pain, but he’s overcome that abuse and become a comfort to children as they tell their stories of abuse.
Marlin, who is now the OSPCA’s director, has been involved with pet therapy since 2007 when he realized the powerful effect that dogs have on autistic children. Marlin’s son Tyler has autism and thanks to therapy dogs, Tyler was able to be weaned from some of his medications.
Marlin knew therapy dogs could have similar effects on other abused children. He says that kids see the scars around Patriot’s muzzle and they immediately know that he is no stranger to pain and abuse.
When they ask about the scars, Marlin tells the kids that though someone hurt them, he’s loved and doing well now. He says that Patriot lets the kids see in a tangible way that they can move past the emotional pain and lead happy, fulfilling lives. When the kids pet Patriot as they are talking to the various legal counsel and investigators, they are immediately calmed and willing to open up, even though they are retelling horrific stories.
Patriot’s presence helps the kids to feel calm and brave in light of what they’ve suffered, and gives them the courage they need to recover… just as Patriot did. Before he was adopted, someone had tightly wound Patriot’s mouth with metal wire to keep it shut. His tongue had also been cut about nearly an inch, and he needed several surgeries to recover.
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Marlin said that Patriot had such emotional baggage, it took a long time before he trusted anyone to touch him near his mouth. Marlin put the time and patience into bringing Patriot back to a place of trust, and knew he’d be a perfect fit when the District Attorney’s Office decided they’d use therapy dogs for abused children. He helped start the Paws Assist the Needs of the District Attorney (PANDA) program that currently uses 13 therapy dogs.
Marlin says that even though justice was never found for Patriot, he is the picture of forgiveness and healing as he helps other children fight for theirs.
More by Lori Ennis