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Langlade Co. district attorney launches victim/witness support animal program

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LANGLADE COUNTY (WAOW) -- Whether you are a victim or a witness, opening up about a criminal case can be tough.

However, the Langlade County district attorney is bringing in a new member to her office to make it a little easier.

When 14 month old Ernie the beagle isn't playing with toys or waiting for treats she is working along side her mom, the district attorney of Langlade Co.

"I can't get her to get angry or bark," said Elizabeth Gerbet the district attorney.

Her 27-pound beagle has a huge role to play as a Victim and Witness Support Animal.

This was all possible through a pilot program that Gerbet came up with by accident, while walking her dog Ernie she came across a victim in one of her cases.

"She started sniffing and then the victim started petting her and through the time of interacting with Ernie you can see this person's anxiety just melt away," Gerbet said.

Being an animal lover herself, Gerbet said she knew the impact Ernie would have.

"It just occurred to me that Ernie would just be a really good resource to use and meet with victim just to provide that comfort because it was obvious that just talking to me wasn't going to make this person comfortable," Gerbet said.

The public property committee approved a 60-day trial period to see how Ernie does at her job and so far she seems to be getting the hang of it.

Gerbet will be presenting her case to the county in February to show them all the work Ernie has done in hopes to make her a permanent member of her office.

Victoria Saha

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