MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A furry, four-legged employee is now roaming the aisles between cubicles at the Ramsey County Attorney’s office.
Norie, a 2-year-old Golden Retriever, who will be available for victims and witnesses of crimes when they come into the attorney’s office for interviews with prosecutor John Choi.
“I think many times when we ask victims to tell their stories, there’s often times added stress and harm that happens,” Choi said.
Norie’s handler is Bill Kubes, who is an advocate for victims and witnesses. He comes to work will Bill every day.
“I’m amazed every day I can bring a dog to work, it’s an amazing thing to do, it’s my dream job,” Kubes said.
He says Norie helps victims and witnesses open up and re-tell their traumatic accounts. The long-term use for Norie is to bring her into the Ramsey County Courthouse when judges allow it.
“We’re hoping to bring her in for sentencing hearings when victims have a right to address the court,” said Tami McConkey, director of Victim, Witness and Community Services. “If they could do so with the dog there, they’d be more calm.”
In special circumstances, Norie may be used in a trial to help witnesses and victims testify. Choi assures that Norie will not be a distraction.
“Our intention here is not at all to try to influence the jury or anything like that,” Choi said.
It was a four-year process in total for Choi’s office to find Norie. The first two years, Norie was being trained at Helping Paws, a service dog training facility based in Hopkins. Then Choi’s office waited to find the dog with the right temperament for a courtroom. Norie is so calm, she slept through most of Tuesday’s press conference.
“I just instantly fell in love with her,” Choi said. “I think it was kind of unanimous. We all wanted Norie.”
Choi’s office has a budget set aside for $8,000 a year for all needs and care for Norie.