Yesterday Jen met a dog named Justice.
Justice is a therapy dog that works at the Miami-Dade Regional Juvenile Detention Center. He is a Lab/Great Dane mix that was rescued from Big Dog Ranch Rescue in Wellington, Florida, trained by Miami Dog Whisperer Richard Heinz, and certified as a Pet Therapy Dog and Canine Good Citizen.
Maybe you’re asking why there’s a therapy dog at a detention center. After all, these kids are criminals!
Truth is that most of these children have experienced a great deal of trauma in their short lives, and Justice is exactly what they need.
Justice is good at his job, too. In that room filled with professionals, I don’t think one missed getting licks by Justice. Yes, he licks! I know many therapy dogs are trained not to do that, but Justice is encouraged to give kisses.
Center Superintendent Daryl Wolf said that in the six months since Justice has been on the job, incidents have decreased by over half. When a child becomes agitated, staff ask the child if he or she would like time with Justice.
The detention center is aware that not everyone likes dogs. During intake they let children and their families know a therapy dog is used. Children are screened for allergies. No child is forced to interact with Justice, and he is never brought on the scene if there’s a situation requiring intervention.
Justice has been so good at his job, FL Dept of Juvenile Justice is planning to eventually have a dog at each of its detention centers.
Hooray for Justice!