Our guests at this month's Starfish Assignment Columbus meeting were Sergeant Jason Ratcliff and Deputy Darrah Metz from the Franklin County Sheriff's Office Therapy Dog program, and their respective K9 partners, Kit and Mattis.
The program was established in 2017, just a short time after Dep. Metz approached recently-elected Sheriff Baldwin with her idea for the program. He enthusiastically embraced it, which was one of only a handful in the country at that time. Since then, Franklin County has led the way for other departments across the county and around the world, fielding questions from places such as Texas, Colorado, Germany, and Canada.
Sgt Ratcliff shared a particularly poignant story of a young girl who had been sexually abused but could not speak of that abuse to the prosecutor or anyone else assigned to her case. At one meeting, the girl drew a dog, prompting the attorney to ask if she liked dogs. When the girl replied that she did, the prosecutor asked Dep Metz and K9 Mattis to come to the next meeting with the girl. Upon seeing Mattis, the child laid down on the floor and began telling the pup her traumatic story, as the attorney sat to the side taking notes.