Delaware County officials have approved plans to acquire a service dog to aid young people in the juvenile court system.
Delaware County Council members questioned the $16,000 price tag but ultimately voted 6-1 to approve the funding request, The Star Press of Muncie reported.
The proposal was submitted by Ashley Soldaat, director of the county’s Court Appointed Special Advocates program. The program advocates for abused and neglected children, particularly those in the court system.
The council was asked to approve the request and other CASA expenses, which would be paid for with grant revenue. Soldaat said the $16,000 would cover the cost of the dog and its training.
“It’s tough for me to support something new financially,” said Ron Quakenbush, the council’s president.
He asked if other council members thought the cost of the dog should be removed from CASA’s overall request, but no other council members spoke up.
Soldaat will soon meet and train the dog from Support Dogs Inc. of St. Louis. The dog will accompany child victims and witnesses in interviews, trials and juvenile court proceedings. Soldaat said dogs get children to speak after trauma.
“Kids shut down,” she said. “When the dog enters, it completely changes things and opens them up.”
Soldaat said the dog will also be used in publicity and advertising about CASA. “This dog will also serve as the face of our program,” she said.
The dog is expected to begin its job of helping children through the criminal justice system on Feb. 13.