YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) — The Mahoning County Prosecutor’s Office has a new four-legged, furry employee — to be trained to comfort victims and witnesses of crime.

Prosecutor Gina DeGenova rescued Hope, the 10-month-old Golden Retriever, from the Animal Welfare League of Trumbull County. The dog had been taken there by members of the Healthy Hearts and Paws Project on Christmas Eve.

Jenny Falvey of Dogsmartz Unleashed in Poland Township, assisted in an evaluation to determine that the dog would be suitable as a comfort dog. Hope will continue her training with Dogsmartz to become a certified comfort dog.

Hope lives with Alan Rodges, who will serve as her handler. Rodges also serves as the
director of Communications and Community Outreach for the Prosecutor’s Office.

Isabella Caruso, who works as a victim/witness and grant coordinator, will serve as
Hope’s alternate handler.

“One of my main priorities upon becoming prosecutor was to implement programs to help victims of crime, especially children. Oftentimes, victims and witnesses of crimes are asked to relive stories of traumatic events multiple times during the pendency of a given case. My research has shown that comfort dogs successfully provide support during this stressful process,” DeGenova said in a statement.

You can follow Hope’s training on Instagram at @hopethecomfortdog.