By Abigail Kendal (’22)
Anyone who has a furry friend can attest to the fact that they are probably the best thing that ever happened to them. While dogs are known for bringing emotional stability, comfort, and everlasting friendship into a person’s life, in Los Angeles these canines have been part of a much greater journey: one of trust, healing, and recovery. A revolutionary program called PAWS (Pets are Wonderful Support) has taken the District Attorney’s office by storm through the process of helping sexual assault survivors testify and meet with prosecutors in safe and sheltered way as part of an organization called PANDA (PAWS Assist the Needs of the District Attorney). As of 2015, this program has brought much more than just comfort to the victims of assault and neglect. More specifically, this program is catered towards victims under the age of eighteen, with the average program recipient’s age between six and twelve. Not only do these adorable puppies help young children cope with the indelible trauma of abuse, but the survivors also aid the dogs in healing through their own stories. In fact, according to Alicia A. Nicosia, PANDA program manager, the vast majority of the dogs involved in the program have lived through their own experiences of abuse. Take Patriot, a wonderful Siberian husky, for example. He was rescued with a tight muzzle around his mouth that was said to be caused by barbed wire. Not only do the dogs who are apart of the PANDA program change the lives of assault survivors across California, but they also set a precedent for kindness, acceptance, and assault recovery that is being admired from nations across the globe and survivors across all walks of life.