Ginger the comfort dog joins the DA's Office
Imperial County District Attorney Gilbert Otero holds Ginger as the children who selected the pup's name look on along with the Assistant District Attorney Deborah Owen and the puppy¿s trainer during the Imperial County Board of Supervisors meeting Tuesday. (Courtesy photo / July 17, 2013)
Having held a contest for the pup’s name during this year’s California Mid-Winter Fair & Fiesta, the District Attorney’s office selected the winner after viewing a photo of the beautiful 3-month-old Golden Doddle puppy and reviewing several different options submitted by local children under the age of 18.
Ginger, who is currently in training to be the first Crime Victim Assistance Dog in Imperial County, will assist children and other vulnerable victims of crime to cope with the stress and trauma that is often the result of victimization, according to a press release by the DA’s office.
“Ginger helps provide a comfortable and nonjudgmental environment during an extremely difficult and frightening time,” said Imperial County District Attorney Gilbert G. Otero. “We are excited about Ginger joining our office and what she can do for crime victims in our community.”
The newest four-legged addition to the DA’s Office made her first debut during the Imperial County Board of Supervisors meeting Tuesday, as the three children, Riana and Joseph Gitz and Megan Brinkman were also recognized for having suggested the name chosen.
The Imperial County District Attorney’s Office joins other prosecutorial and nonprofit agencies throughout the United States to use dogs to provide emotional support for crime victims. Dogs like Ginger are working in several California counties, as well as other states, according to the release.
Ginger’s primary duties will be assisting children, elderly, domestic violence and sexual assault victims before, during and after the investigation.
She will also be available to accompany crime victims to court when they testify.
“Her role as a comfort dog will be just that, to provide comfort to victims of crime in Imperial County,” Otero said in the release.
Funding for the purchase of Ginger was obtained solely from assets seized from criminal enterprises, while Brawley Union High School’s Major League Baseball Action Team has volunteered to raise funds to assist in the maintenance cost associated with having an animal such as Ginger.
Mike Burk, a local dog trainer, is a certified evaluator for Therapy Dogs International. He will be training Ginger and her handler, Ashley Yates, according to the release.