BCSO Celebrates ‘Happy Gotcha Day’ with Agent Stacie Moore and Her K-9 Partner ‘Benji’
By Wayne Ivey, Brevard County Sheriff // August 22, 2020
therapy animals can reduce trauma symptoms in children who have been abused
BREVARD COUNTY, FLORIDA –As most of you know, the Brevard County Sheriff’s Office is comprised of many units and squads who perform very important functions around the clock to protect our citizens.
To better introduce you to our team, from time to time we will post employee and unit spotlights so you can meet and get to know the incredible men and women of your Sheriff’s Office.
Agent Stacie Moore, a member of our Criminal Investigative Services Division recently celebrated “Happy Gotcha Day,” with her Therapy Dog “Benji” on the anniversary of his rescue from our shelter.
Since we don’t know when Benji was actually born, Agent Moore decided to celebrate each year the day she and Benji were partnered together in 2019.
In 2019, Benji was abandoned, ending up in the care of the Brevard County Sheriff’s Office Animal Care Center. “Benji” was then screened and selected for possible placement into the Paws and Stripes program.
The criteria for placement included an evaluation of his disposition and reaction to people under various conditions.
After selection, “Benji” was enrolled in the Brevard County Sheriff’s Office’s Paws and Stripes College and was partnered with an inmate who would help guide him through his training while “Benji” would help guide the inmate through their tough and challenging time as well.
Like other paws and stripes dogs, “Benji” trained 3 hours a day, seven days a week, for 8 weeks. During this time he was taught basic obedience, and life assistance skills, while under careful and constant observation.
Upon graduation, it was determined that “Benji” was uniquely suited to become a Therapy Dog.
As such, “Benji” was selected to partner with Agent Stacie Moore of our Special Victims Unit to begin training as a Therapy Dog“Benji” and Agent Moore subsequently attended a 40-hour advanced training course where “Benji” was taught advanced skills that would enable him to provide comfort to child victims in a variety of situations, including on-scene responses, forensic interviews, judicial proceedings, and critical incidents.
Agent Moore was also provided additional training on the deployment of the dog as both animals and handlers were observed together to make sure they were a perfect fit. Upon completion of the training, “Benji” and Agent Moore became a part of the Sheriff’s Office Therapy Dog Program.
From his office at the Children’s Advocacy Center of Brevard, “Benji” provides affection, comfort, and support to child victims and families of sexual abuse.
Benji provides relief to those who are emotionally distraught and when used in an interview setting, he breaks through the wall of a victim’s fear and apprehension, which assists in the victim being more relaxed and prone to an open conversation.
Research shows that therapy animals can help reduce trauma symptoms in children who have been abused as well as allow investigators to gain valuable information from these children during the interview process.
Between May and June of this year, “Benji” came into contact with child victims of sexual abuse and provided care and comfort prior to, during, and after the interviews.
During this time span, he also comforted and cared for families involved in critical incidents surrounding either the death or violence to a loved one.
“Benji” has become a valuable resource to our agency and as Sheriff, I am extremely proud of Agent Moore’s and “Benji’s” incredible service to our community,” said Sherriff Wayne Ivey.
“Please join me in thanking Agent Moore and Benji’s commitment and dedication to the Brevard County Sheriff’s Office and the protection of our citizens,” said Brevard County Sherriff Wayne Ivey.
– Brevard County Sheriff Wayne Ivey