In her three years of service, Kasha, the yellow Labrador Retriever, brought comfort to more than 500 abused and traumatized children in northeast Louisiana.
On Wednesday, she celebrated her retirement from serving as a facility dog for the Children’s Advocacy Center in northeast Louisiana.
“Watching her interact with the kids, just the way she’s helping to calm them down and give them something to focus on outside of the CAC, really makes a huge difference,” said Macy Avery , a family lawyer for the CAC and Kasha’s supervisor.
Kasha, known to her friends as “Kash”, was awarded a medal on Wednesday morning at the Center for Children & Families in Monroe. The center is a not-for-profit organization with offices in Louisiana and Mississippi that serves as the umbrella for the CAC, Court Appointed Special Advocates of Northeast Louisiana, Brokers of Hope, Family Support & Youth Transition, and Therapeutic Services departments.
Children’s Advocacy Center, which helps approximately 300 children a year at its Monroe location, facilitates forensic interviews with children who are victims of sexual abuse, physical abuse, human trafficking, or witnesses of violent crimes by working with authorities and officials working with Children bypass casualty cases to minimize additional trauma.
Unconditional emotional support
Kasha helped in this process by giving unconditional emotional support to the children, often just by stretching out on the couch next to them, falling asleep, and occasionally snoring during interviews. Depending on how much space there was on the couch, Kasha sometimes stretched out on top of the children.
Over the years, CAC Director Tiffany O’Neal noticed children petting Kasha when they started talking about difficult subjects. In the waiting room after interviews, Avery was often seen demonstrating some of Kasha’s 40 duty orders, and the children watched the yellow Labrador Retriever sit, lie down, and wave his paw. When children had to return to the CAC for a medical exam, many asked where to find Kasha as soon as they walked through the door.
“She’s been a huge help to the families coming to the CAC and to our staff,” said O’Neal. “We had kids who were nervous when they got through; we had parents who were nervous when they got through. And once they’re greeted by Macy and given the opportunity to meet Kash, those fears just kind of melt away. “
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Avery came up with the idea of bringing a service dog to the CAC after meeting a service dog at another law center in November 2016. The following year, she began the paperwork required to obtain a service dog through Canine Companions for Independence, a nonprofit that provides service dogs for free to people with disabilities. In 2018, Avery finished her education and brought Kasha home.
During Kasha’s time at the CAC, she received financial support from the CAC and the Lefebvre Veterinary Center provided free medical care.
“Since we applied for and got Kash, everyone here has been so supportive and done so much around them to celebrate them and to celebrate their work,” said Avery. “It really means a lot to me that people really want to get together and make it a big deal for her because she does a lot even though she can’t speak like others.”
What’s next for Kasha
Kasha was retiring because her supervisor accepted a new position outside of the CAC. Avery will work as a mental health advisor at Simsboro High School in Lincoln Parish. Kasha will spend her retirement playing on Avery’s farm.
“She’ll be able to spend the rest of her life at Macy’s house with all of her dog brothers and siblings, and she can roll the dirt as much as she likes,” said O’Neal. “She doesn’t have to go to work the next day.”