ST. CLOUD -- The Stearns County Attorney's Office has a furry new staff member to help them when interviewing victims and witnesses of traumatic events like murder and child abuse.

Nova is a 4-year-old Golden Retriever whose job is to help people relax when talking about those traumatic events.

Nova's handler, Keli Trautman is a Paralegal and Victim Witness Coordinator for Stearns County. She says Nova is intuitive and is a calming presence for victims.

Stearns County Attorney Janelle Kendall says while these Facility Dogs are popular around the country, Nova is only the 2nd dog in Minnesota along with her sister in Ramsey County who has been placed...

Helping Paws is a non-profit organization that trains these dogs completely through donated money. So, you have to apply for the very valuable resource that is this animal. She has about $40,000-$50,000 worth of training already into her before she starts to interview for placement.

Trautman and Nova graduated from the Helping Paws program in October 2020.  Stearns County commissioners Tuesday formally accepted the transfer of Nova from Helping Paws over to the county.

When Nova isn't working, she lives with Trautman and her family.

For a video of Nova and Keli's Helping Paws graduation, click on the video below.


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