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Courthouse facility dog retires after providing comfort to children in Hillsborough County

Posted at 9:21 PM, Feb 17, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-17 23:23:03-05

TAMPA, Fla. — A courthouse facility dog that helped children in traumatic and stressful situations retired on Thursday.

Voices for Children of Tampa Bay, a nonprofit, hosted a retirement party for Tibet, a Labrador and Golden Retriever mix. The party was held at 81Bay Brewing Company in Tampa.


Tibet started working in February of 2017. For the past 8 years, the dog provided comfort to children in stressful situations.

The dog's handler, Brenda Kocher, worked with Tibet and has now adopted her.

"A lot of times when children know they're going to testify they think it's going to be easy and then they get up there. They clam up and having the dog there just really makes it so much easier for the child to find their voice," said Brenda Kocher, a courthouse facility dog handler.

Voices for Children of Tampa Bay started Florida's first courthouse dog program. The program’s goal is to provide emotional support for traumatized children during stressful and difficult situations. The dogs have assisted children in courtroom testimony, forensic interviews, depositions and medical exams.

"I am amazed and so proud of her. She is the first courthouse facility dog in the state of Florida and she inspired changing the law in Florida to allow a facility dog to accompany a testifying witness and it's really neat to be part of Florida history," said Kocher.

"There's no shortage of pain in the world and she seems to always make it better," said Kocher.

Lorne is a full-bred Golden Retriever and will take Tibet's place.

"People are really believing in the impact these dogs make and I have things on my calendar months and months in advance," said Dayle Urquhart, a courthouse dog handler.

"We are beginning to really gain some traction where judges and attorneys and the state attorney's office are requesting us," she added.

For more information on Voices for Children of Tampa, visit