As District Attorney, I have witnessed firsthand the transformative power of our Courthouse Dog Program. These remarkable four-legged allies provide unwavering support to vulnerable individuals navigating the daunting legal system. With their calming presence and unconditional love, Star, Trakr, and Comet offer a unique sense of comfort, allowing witnesses and victims to share their experiences and emotions with renewed courage.Erik Nasarenko
District Attorney, Ventura County
About the Program
The Courthouse Dog Program began in June 2020, bringing comfort and support to victims, witnesses, and family members as they navigate the criminal justice system. Our facility dogs help people during interviews, medical examinations, case preparation, courtroom tours, hearings, and trials. They assist victims, especially children, on the witness stand when they testify in court. They also provide comfort in the audience to family members of homicide victims. Our facility dogs attend public events and visit schools and other agencies to spread their love and connect with the community.
The Ventura County District Attorney’s Office has three dogs in its Courthouse Dog Program. All of our dogs were born, raised, and trained by Assistance Dogs of the West, an accredited dog training facility in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Each handler and dog receive additional team training together and passed the Public Access Test for certification (the highest level of public proficiency in California).
Star, our founding dog in the program, came to the office in June 2020. Born on February 16, 2018, Star was part of a large litter of “hero” pups that have gone on to provide services as facility dogs or individually assigned service dogs. One of her littermates, Trakr, joined the office in October 2020. Trakr was named after a 9/11 search and rescue dog hero. In 2021, Comet joined the office as our third facility dog. Comet was born on July 31, 2019, and gets to work alongside his mom Star. Star had one litter of puppies before completing her training to be a facility dog. A celestial theme was chosen for their names in her honor, giving us Comet.
You can find Star, Trakr, or Comet helping others in a courtroom at the Hall of Justice or at the Family Justice Center. If you would like to request the use of one of our Courthouse Facility Dogs, please fill out the form on this page.