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Meet Oscar: Muskegon County’s new canine advocacy dog

Posted at 9:24 PM, Oct 27, 2014
and last updated 2014-10-27 21:24:22-04

MUSKEGON, Mich. — The newest addition of the Muskegon County Prosecutor’s Office dressed up for his first day on the job — standing proud on all four legs.
Oscar, an 18-month old black Labrador , was officially sworn in for his duties wearing a bow tie Monday by Judge Raymond Kostrzewa — and now officially begins his work.
Oscar is a canine advocacy dog — providing comfort for victims and witnesses too young to even understand the enormity of the crime against them in some cases.
“The courthouse can at times be a scary place,” Judge Kostrzewa says. “You know you’re dealing with strangers in white shirts and ties who the youngster has never met.”
Oscar was raised to be a Leader Dog for the Blind, but his tendency to get ear infections sent him down another career path — giving the Muskegon County Prosecutor’s Office a highly-trained dog to work with.
Oscar was a gift to the county from the state victim`s advocate program, but still needs approval from a judge and defense attorney in order to enter a courtroom.
Prosecutor D.J. Hilson says Oscar will be the first face children see when they walk into his office.
“These young victims will be able to walk Oscar up to the witness stand, have Oscar sit at their feet at the witness stand, and then walk Oscar out,” Hilson says.
A friend, companion, and sense of security for the littlest victim during their biggest, scariest times.
“For the kids, they’ll know he’s there. They’ll feel he’s there — and he’ll always be there for them,” Hilson says.
Oscar lives with the prosecutor’s office manager — who volunteered to make him a part of her family — and is now his handler.