Madison County courts are about to put on the dog.
The courthouse is about to welcome Fitz, a highly trained facility dog who will offer comfort and support to court visitors.
Chief Judge Hylla, Associate Judge Maureen Schuette, and Circuit Judge David Dugan have been working on making the addition a reality for the last year. On March 18, the court’s three specially selected handlers, Tiffany Brooks, Emily Bell, and Angela Warta, began receiving extensive training at Duo Dogs in St. Louis. After the second day of training, Duo Dogs paired the best suited dog with the handlers and the Madison County Courthouse learned that it would receive Fitz, a male labrador retriever.
The dog will start on March 25.
“Fitz will be an amazing resource for children and adults in courtroom situations and those in need of comfort and support,” said Schuette, who initiated the drive to obtain the dog. “Oftentimes, the children in our courts are directly or indirectly involved in cases and we want them to just be kids and not worry about everything going on in the courtroom.”
Hylla said: “We are honored to be selected to receive the first facility dog for our courts from Duo Dogs in St. Louis. Fitz has been specially trained for two years to provide calm and empathetic emotional support to those caught up in difficult situations. We are grateful to Duo Dogs for selecting us to receive this wonderful addition, to the Madison County Bar Association for their financial support for our dog, and to Veterinarian, Dr. Daniel Buller, at Bethalto Animal Clinic P.C. for agreeing to provide free veterinarian care and services for our dog.”
Duo Dogs is a national not-for-profit organization at 10955 Linpage Place, St. Louis. For more information contact duodogs.org.