Canine Companion Program
CASA of Lea County’s Canine Companion Program was established in December 2010. A year after the passing of CASA’s first canine companion, Cooper, Phillip, a black English Labrador, specially bred and trained by Assistance Dogs of the West in Santa Fe, was placed with CASA of Lea County in December of 2017. Phillip provides emotional support and unconditional love to children in the legal system due to abuse and neglect, to child victims or witnesses of violent crimes and juvenile offenders.
The CASA Canine Companion has many duties to fulfill in the course of a workday. In Children’s Court, Phillip lends emotional support of victims of child abuse and neglect. In the same setting, he intuitively gives comfort and support to nervous CASA advocates as they prepare to stand up and speak to the Judge about what is in the best interest of the child. At CASA’s Family Time Visitation Center, Phillip is a calming presence as children visit with their families, some of whom are affected by domestic violence and custody issues. Additionally, Phillip works in the Lea County Juvenile Detention Center where he brings calm and focus to child inmates as the anxiously await sentencing or transport to other detention facilities or treatment centers. During a time in their lives filled with confusion and uncertainty about their future, Phillip is a caring and welcome friend who allows them to let down their emotional guard and express their feelings.