LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — Kentucky is the highest-ranking state in the country for child abuse and neglect. CASA fights for those children, advocating for them through the court system.
One of those advocates is a furry friend, who has now been nominated for a national award.
Matilda is a 4-year-old lab/golden mix and the facility dog for CASA.
"She goes to court with children when they have to testify against their abusers. As you can imagine, that's a really stressful and tragic event for a child," said Liz Noffsinger, Volunteer Manager and CASA Canine Manager.
In her own way, Matilda can help children who have suffered horrible abuse and trauma, lifting their spirits and bringing smiles to their faces. Noffsinger is Matilda's handler, who brings Matilda to comfort the children in the worst of the worst abuse cases.
"You see a visceral response," Noffsinger said. "I walk in the courtroom and I have her at my feet. Everyone looks at her with adoring eyes, ya know, 'Can I pet her? Can I pet her?'"
It's those special skills that have earned Matilda a nomination for the 2021 American Humane Hero Dog Award. The winner earns an appearance on the Hallmark Channel. Matilda is nominated under Therapy Dogs and is the only CASA dog to be nominated.
"Matilda is an asset, not just for children that's first and foremost why we have her, but for everyone there. The bailiffs, the judge, the attorneys, the social workers," said Melynda Jameson, executive director of CASA.
Anyone can vote for Matilda. The contest is open until May 6.