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Centre County Courthouse dog, child advocate Princess dies

Faith Berger, left, victim witness coordinator, and Mary Pinkerton, victim advocate, pose with Princess, Centre County's victims' advocate dog, outside of the courthouse in Bellefonte on Tuesday, June 15, 2010.
Faith Berger, left, victim witness coordinator, and Mary Pinkerton, victim advocate, pose with Princess, Centre County's victims' advocate dog, outside of the courthouse in Bellefonte on Tuesday, June 15, 2010. CDT file

Princess, an 11-year-old Labrador retriever, was a “hero” to kids.

She was responsible for helping more than 400 people in court, according to the Centre County District Attorney’s Office. She began to work in the DA’s office January 2010 and was semi-retired.

Princess died Wednesday after showing symptoms of an illness at the courthouse, where she was to attend court proceedings with two children who were to testify in sexual assault cases. She was then taken to Metzger’s Animal Hospital.

“When she was meeting with victims who would become tearful, she would start to make little empathy cries, almost quietly, with her head resting on their laps as she leaned into them,” the DA’s office said. “It was remarkable.”

Faith Schindler, Princess’s owner, learned to handle her at Canine Partners for Life. Schindler told the CDT in 2015 that Princess’s job was a win-win.

“She really likes it because she gets lots of treats, “ Schindler said.

Her siblings were also service dogs. One of her brothers was trained in bomb detection and worked for Penn State, and another specialized in drug detection for the state police.

The DA’s office will continue providing “companion animals” for children and adults who need help testifying in court.

“Princess was our girl, your girl, everyone’s girl,” DA Stacy Parks Miller said. “She spoke to a lot of people without using voice. We are currently lost without our golden girl around here.”

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