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Montgomery County's New Courthouse Dog To Help Comfort, Support Victims And Witnesses

By Walt Hunter

NORRISTOWN, Pa., (CBS) -- The newest and only four-legged employee at the Montgomery County Courthouse officially arrived for work Friday morning.

"Turks", a "Courthouse Comfort Dog," will now roam the hallways, helping witnesses, victims and even prospective jurors make their way through the often daunting criminal justice system.

Trained by Canine Partners for Life, "Turks" will be led through the courthouse hallways each day by her official handler, Kiersten McDonald, a county investigator who is her official handler.

McDonald says "Turks" will be very helpful for victims and witnesses who are often afraid to tell their stories, especially children.

"They know their secret is safe, the dog won't tell," McDonald explained.

Turks will not be permitted to actually enter the courtroom, because of concerns she could influence the outcome of a trial. But she will greet prospective jurors, helping make their challenging jobs easier.

Finally, "Turks" training won't cost taxpayers a penny, the funds coming from money seized from criminals.

And, District Attorney Risa Ferman says her "salary" won't be an issue either.

"We just give her as many treats as we can," she explained.

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