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Juvenile court welcomes therapy dog

By: Nick Mordowanec | C&G Newspapers | Published December 17, 2019

 Izzy is the new therapy dog in the Macomb County Circuit Court Juvenile Division.

Izzy is the new therapy dog in the Macomb County Circuit Court Juvenile Division.

Photo provided by Macomb County Circuit Court


MACOMB COUNTY — Just like that, the life of Izzy changed, and so did those whom she came into contact with.

Izzy, a goldendoodle, is the most recent recruit of Macomb County Circuit Court’s Juvenile Division. She was rescued from a hoarding house of 22 dogs in Shelby Township.

Juvenile Division Administrator Nicole Faulds said it’s a new kind of venture for the county. The court previously worked with Teacher’s Pet, an intervention program that pairs at-risk youth with shelter dogs.

She said this particular process started after she spoke with Macomb County Animal Control Chief Jeff Randazzo, who had an idea for Izzy to help others by way of the court system.

It began with an intensive training program relating to manners and commands. Izzy, who was brought in around Oct. 1, is utilized to help individuals with mental health issues; provide emotional comfort for children in treatment programs; and to take part in one-on-one appointments between therapists and children, or parents and children, in mediation.

“(Izzy’s) calm, easy-going, she doesn’t bark — she’s just really the perfect demeanor for a therapy dog. … Sometimes having a dog in the room is just a calming effect for people,” Faulds said.

Amy Mitchell, a case supervisor within the juvenile division, volunteered to take Izzy when Faulds first brought up the idea. The dog is estimated to be three to five years old.

It was good timing considering Mitchell’s family dog had died about a year prior.

“I was kind of getting to the point where I was ready for another dog,” Mitchell said.

The pair attended a 19-day residential training program at a local facility, and when that concluded they went back for additional sessions.

Mitchell, who keeps Izzy at her home even though she is technically owned by the court, learned about herself as a dog owner.

“I think that our court administration has really tried to stay in touch with progressive ideas and anything that’s going to help kids,” Mitchell said. “It’s something that’s more acceptable in more organizations now — schools have support animals and things like that.

“Anything that can help kids that are coming to court … if that helps them have a better experience in this building, the kids tend to view us as someone who’s their advocate rather than their probation officer.”

Izzy’s schedule varies week to week based on requests, but she’s already become a fixture among most in the court.

“We were happy to save her and give her a purpose here,” Faulds said. “This dog is the sweetest. I’ve never seen a dog like this, especially after some of the things she’s gone through.”