MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - A five-year-old black lab named Willow found herself the center of attention Friday for her special ability to ease the stress of children and adult victims of crime.
Willow, with her calm demeanor and ability to work in a stressful environment, lends her paws to Child Protect Children's Advocacy Center.
Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall capped off National Crime Victims' Rights Week with a certificate praising the pooch as a hero who, like her human counterparts, serves those victimized by crime, no matter their age.
"As we shine the spotlight on those heroes and recognize that you don't have to be a human to show empathy and love to those in need, I am proud to honor a four-legged hero who has made a tremendous difference in the lives of hundreds of crime victims – young and old – in the four short years that she has been called to service here in Alabama," Marshall said.
Willow works with her handler and partner, Tamara Martin, a forensic interviewer at Child Protect, and helps crime victims and witnesses in all phases of the court system from preliminary hearings to sentencing. She puts victims at ease during forensic interviews, counseling sessions and while testifying in court.
And Willow stays busy, typically helping 35 to 40 crime victims and their family members every month.
"Willow has been used extensively here in Alabama to assist crime victims and the prosecutors who seek justice on their behalf. Since I have become attorney general, Willow has helped us work three cases involving children – one a murder case and the other two involving sexual abuse," Marshall said.
"On behalf of the Alabama Attorney General's Office, I am proud to present Willow with this special recognition for her unique dedication to serving the most vulnerable of Alabama as they seek justice."