Fannin Co. Children's Center gets facility dog

Published: Sep. 30, 2017 at 4:00 PM CDT
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Render, a 2-year-old lab-golden mix, is the newest addition to the Fannin County Children's Center.

"Render is amazing, everybody loves him," said Mandi Bruso, his primary handler.

For years the Fannin County Children's Center has tried to get a facility dog and now it's a reality, thanks to Canine Companions for Independence.

"He's my favorite co-worker, not ashamed to say it," said Cassi Lightfoot, his secondary handler.

Bruso and Lightfoot tell us since hes been around, they've noticed a big improvement in the kids that come in.

"They're kind of closed off and then when Render comes in, they're like, 'Oh, I have a dog and his name is blah blah blah' and they just go on and they light up," said Bruso.

"With Render it makes this experience more pleasant, kind of brings more of a happiness, where as it was before, more stressful for them," said Lightfoot.

Render's main duties are sitting in forensic interviews and counseling.

"Sometimes when you're petting a dog and your brain gets to go somewhere else, you can talk about things that are really hard to talk about," said Bruso.

He also serves a secondary benefit at the center.

"This is a stressful job and it brings a lot of relief to us too to have Render around here," said Sandy Barber, executive director at the center. "He brings a lot of smiles and joys to us."

It's a job he's been training for his whole life.

"They start working with them as puppies, even before they're weaned," said Lightfoot.

Valued at around $40,000 to $50,000, the center says they're grateful for Canine Companions for Independence's donation and to finally have a dog for their facility.

"It's quite an investment of time and money into these dogs to raise them to be so highly trained," said Barber.

Render is also able to sit with children while they testify in court. They hope to use him in trial by the end of the year.

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