dog

Wharton County’s newest law enforcer was sworn in by 329th District Court Judge Randy Clapp Wednesday and officially went on duty with a “woof.”

She’s Blue Belle, a seven-month-old miniature Australian Shepard, assigned to the Wharton County District Attorney’s Office.

Her job?

Comfort.

She’s there to be petted and cuddled, to offer a paw of friendship to crime victims.

“The majority of our victims are female and have responded positively towards Blue Belle and vice versa. The majority of our law enforcement community are male and the response has also been very positive,” DA Dawn Allison told the newspaper.

Little Miss Blue Belle isn’t much over ankle high with bright blue eyes and fluffy ears.

She sat obediently as the black-robed Judge Clapp took a knee in the 329th courtroom and looked down to give the oath.

“Do you, Blue Belle, solemnly swear that you will faithfully execute the office of comfort dog and will to the best of your ability unconditionally love, protect, comfort and defend crime victims in Wharton County, Texas against all enemies, foreign and domestic, emotional and physical, so help you, God of Dogs,” the judge asked. “If you so swear, please shake my hand.”

Belle didn’t hesitate in raising her paw.

Allison actually obtained the dog several months ago, teaching her to be accustomed to the office.

“We as an office have been discussing obtaining a dog for a couple years now. We were attempting to locate a rescue dog, however we were unable to find one that we knew would be good with children when a friend of mine’s dog had puppies. She knew we were looking for a dog and as it turns out, it was a perfect match,” Allison said.

Initially, the office staffers took turns keeping their new charge, but now she typically goes home with the DA during off-duty hours.

“Deciding on a name was difficult in the beginning, however, once the name Blue Belle was decided it made complete sense. It is an easy name for children to remember and pronounce. She is as sweet as the Texas ice cream and many consider her pint-size. I have even heard a few young girls say she has the same name as one of the Disney princesses,” Allison said.

The dog has already proven itself, responding to those coming into the office, at time being the playful puppy she is, at other times offering the sympathetic ear that just about any dog-lover could easily recognize.

She’s worked with both children and adults, Allison said, adding that offering a comfort dog has proven to be a success so far.

But it’s not all fun and games.

“Blue Belle has graduated from Puppy Obedience 1 and 2 and recently passed the AKC S.T.A.R. testing. She is registered for Dog Obedience 2 and the AKC Canine Good Citizen courses starting in the fall,” Allison said, adding Belle will learn basic commands from sit and stay to shake and fetch.

The concept of a comfort dog isn’t new, Allison said, adding they are used throughout the nation.

“Getting victims to open up about the horrible things that have been done to them is never easy and then asking them to tell their story in a courtroom full of strangers can be brutally traumatizing. Dogs such as Blue Belle can calm and bolster their spirits,” she said.

Want to see Blue Bell take her oath of office? See the Leader-News Facebook Page for video of the event.

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