Young crime victims receive comfort from highly trained police dog

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As the children of a Riverside County couple accused of torture appeared in court last month, a dog trained by Santa Rosa-based Canine Companions for Independence was an unsung hero by their side.

In much need of comfort and support after years of torture at the hands of their parents David and Louise Turpin, who were sentenced April 19 to 25 years to life, the 13 Turpin children found some solace in the companionship of Raider, a 3-year-old yellow Labrador.

Raider, the Corona Police Department’s first facility service dog, was trained in Oceanside by the canine group.

Michelle Williams, the organization's public relations and marketing coordinator, said the agency’s facility dogs are bred and trained by professionals for two years and must learn 40 commands before being sent to work with clients.

“Any dog that’s going into assistance dog work needs to be calm and interact appropriately with people,” Williams said. “They really are the best of the best.”

After David and Louise Turpin were arrested, suspected of isolating, starving and torturing their kids in their filth-ridden home in Perris, California, Raider started meeting with the Turpin children to provide companionship, according to CNN.

In and out of courthouses and prosecutors’ offices, the Turpin children were able to pet and play with Raider in an effort to reduce their anxiety.

According to the Corona Police Department’s web page on Facility K9 Officer Raider, the service dog has a special skill set that allows him to "ease tensions for crime victims, provide gentle support for those who experienced trauma and calm children who have to testify against an accused abuser in court," among other forms of aid.

“We’re just happy our facility dogs can support people in criminal justice spaces,” Williams said, adding that the generosity of communities helps make an incredible impact. “Canine Companions is so grateful to our donors and supporters to make this service possible.”

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