Children who have suffered any physical, mental or even sexual abuse are always less compliant to come forth. It takes great strength to come forward or to testify against accusers. Luckily for the children of this abuse in Orange County, a Siberian Husky named Patriot can help.
In 2012, when Marlin and his wife, Misty, adopted Patriot at the age of 4 months, after he was rescued by the Orange County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (OCSPCA), they noticed that he had extensive injuries around his mouth. They immediately took Patriot to an animal hospital. It was there that the vet on duty shaved Patriots muzzle area and discovered the sad truth. The more puppy had wounds that were caused by metal wire wrapped tightly around his snout. No one could understand why someone would do such a cruel thing to an innocent puppy.
Patriot was left with a very large and visible scar. It took a while until trust was built again between Patriot and his new family, as well as any other humans. As time passed, Patriot began to trust, to love and to care. And then he started to help others.
Marlin, who is now OCSPCA's director, has been involved with pet therapy since 2007. He joined because he saw the amazing and soothing effect that dogs have on children. How? Well, he saw this effect on his autistic son.
When the Orange County District Attorney's Office decided to use therapy dogs for abused children in March 2016, Marlin automatically knew that his dog Patriot would be a perfect match.
Because of Patriots scars, the kids are able to feel a connection to him and vice versa. They help one another to get through the pain and trauma that they have endured. Marlin told PEOPLE, "I remember one young girl who was just beginning the process of a trial, and she was visibly uncomfortable until Patriot came over and nudged her with his nose. The girl grabbed hold of him and cried. They made a strong connection, and the girl was able to move on with her story."
The program uses another 13 therapy dogs to help young victims feel more secure when telling their stories.These brave children are provided with strong support of gentle and loving dogs, something everyone needs. It's a program that is helping to promote justice with compassion.
For many children justice has been served thanks to the work of these therapy dogs and of course the program PANDA. Patriot has learned to wears his scars as if he was telling the world he has a story of survival, of forgiveness and that others can too.
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