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Dog finds full-time job in prosecutor's office

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The owner of Holli said she provides a valuable service to child victims of violent crimes. (Source: WWMT/CBS) The owner of Holli said she provides a valuable service to child victims of violent crimes. (Source: WWMT/CBS)

BATTLE CREEK, MI (WWMT/CBS) - The latest hire inside the Calhoun County prosecutor's office has four legs.

Holli is an 18-month-old yellow Labrador who's now a trained professional. Her new job is to comfort victims of crimes while they testify in a courtroom.

"She's my dog now, and she comes to work with me every day," said prosecutor David Gilbert. "Sometimes she doesn't want to come in."

Holli is part of the new victim's advocate program, and she gets treated like any other employee.

She is trained to sit or lay down for hours at a time next to someone who's taking the witness stand.

It's something that came easy for her, but it can be a tall order for children.

"The child can see that she's there, and they can get some comfort from that dog being in the courtroom," Gilbert said.

Victims on the witness stand sit 10 feet away from defendants in the Calhoun County courtroom, which is why Gilbert said he fought to have Holli. He doesn't want those children to relive their darkest hours alone.

"She doesn't change their testimony, she doesn't affect that part of it," said Victim Services Director Nora Geiger. "It's just that encouragement of having someone on your side. I've had a couple of cases where I've had victims get to the door of the courtroom and just can't go in."

Those who work in the prosecutor's office see the difference the dog is already making in their own lives.

"The kind of environment can be stressful and a little disheartening, so we have to find ways to get through the day and she certainly has helped out in that a lot," Melissa Jelinek said.

Copyright 2014 WWMT via CBS. All rights reserved.

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