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Therapy Dog Bringing Comfort

October 7, 2020

The Marion County Sheriff’s Office has a special K-9 who plays an important role.

While most K-9s help in crime scenes and investigations, Comfort Caj is crime therapy dog and brings smiles to the community and the sheriff’s office.

“He really brings a light and energy to this whole building, that you can’t fathom, you just have to see it,” said Tammy Erwin, Caj’s handler.

Marion County Sheriff Brian Wallace first saw therapy dogs being used after the devastation of Hurricane Matthew.

Once Wallace was elected, Erwin joined the sheriff’s office as victim’s advocate, and the two began searching for a therapy dog of their own.

The sheriff’s office received state approval, and Caj was brought to the sheriff’s office in 2017 and became the first Crime Victim Therapy dog to join a law enforcement department in South Carolina.Erwin said he has a variety of roles. He comforts victims, plays with children and visits nursing homes and schools.

But due to COVID-19, Caj wasn’t able to make as many public appearances so he found a new role.

“He was laying around going, ‘Please give me something to do.’ So, I had a friend who put on Facebook saying we need fosters for kittens at the shelter and I said, ‘Oh why not?’” said Erwin.

She was initially worried about how Caj would react to the kittens, but now they’re inseparable.

“He laid down and was the gentlest thing. He licks them and cleans them, and he’s actually been a huge help to me, keeping them bathed. Now we’re on our 25th baby,” Erwin said.

Caj has also been there to help sheriff’s office staff and deputies during some of their saddest times, including the morning they lost Cpl. Michael Latu, who died in a crash while responding to a call in December.

“Once we got through those first few hours in the middle of the night, I went home and got him because we needed him to just lay at our feet and just comfort us, and that’s his job, not only for the victims, but us as well,” Erwin said.

She added that Caj exemplifies everything the sheriff’s office is about.“We care about this community, we care about its people and he embodies what we stand for,” Erwin said.

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