NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – In the dogged pursuit of justice, the Westchester County District Attorney is employing a four-legged friend to comfort witnesses and victims.
“I am an animal lover,” District Attorney Anthony Scarpino told CBS2’s Tony Aiello. “We felt, very much so, that having the assistance of a dog to calm them, to get them through the experience, was something we should do.”
That’s why there’s a dog in Scarpino’s office: Lewis the lab, who trained with and is handled by Assistant DA Brian Bendish.
“He comes home with me every night. My kids are very happy about my new work assignment,” Bendish said. “He’s naturally very calm… has a great demeanor. He is able to distinguish when he’s working and when he’s playing.”
They say you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. Lewis is only two, and he’s still learning.
Lewis is learning to play with a toy piano – one of the ways he occupies the minds of youngsters who are involved in cases at the DA’s office.
“Something that really can lighten a mood during a very stressful time. We’re working on that one. It’s been successful, so far,” said Bendish. “He worked with young victims yesterday. He sat with them for hours. He really calmed them down. He took their mind off of what they were about to do.”
“Something that is outside the realm of what a human can provide. Just being in the presence of Lewis, it can be very calming,” Scarpino said.
People in the office know to treat Lewis as a colleague, not a pet.
Lewis is there at no cost to taxpayers thanks to donations to Canine Companions for Independence.
You can get the latest news, sports and weather on our brand new CBS New York app. Download here.