August 18, 2023

Meet Zuhey, the New Facility Dog in the City’s Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office

She may be cute and cuddly, but this pup holds an important job helping ease anxiety and trauma for crime victims.
Zuhey service dog assigned to the Commonwealths Attorneys Office

There’s a new canine in court. Zuhey, a 5-year-old Labrador Retriever holds a special position in the City of Virginia Beach Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office. As a facility dog, she helps ease anxiety for crime victims and relieves stress for office staff members.

She was trained through the Service Dogs of Virginia in Charlottesville, a nonprofit organization that raises and trains dogs to assist people with disabilities. The organization also provides facility dogs for courthouses, counseling centers, schools and other therapeutic settings.

Zuhey’s first day on the job was June 16, 2023.

“What she brings is the ability to comfort victims and witnesses that are coming to the courthouse. I think it’s important to keep in mind that a lot of the victims and witnesses are coming here to re-live the worst moments in their life,” said Commonwealth's Attorney Colin Stolle. “And to come here and have to explain it to a judge, or jury or attorneys—that can be a stressful event on top of everything they’ve gone through. Zuhey is here to help them through that process.”

Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Robin Bland is Zuhey’s primary handler, while her secondary handler—Deputy Commonwealth’s Attorney Patrick Connolly—spends time with her during the workday in the Victim-Witness Office. According to the office, crime victims and witnesses endure trauma and are often nervous or anxious when meeting with prosecutors to prepare for trial. That’s where Zuhey comes in.

“We’ll cue her to give them a hug and lay on their legs, so they can just sit there and pet her,” Connolly said. “You can literally watch as they relax in that situation.”

Zuhey has not yet appeared in a courtroom, but she’s working her way there.

“We are slowly introducing her to various tasks,” Public Information Officer Macie Allen said. “She has done very well with child victims and adults, too.”

Her furry, fine face is trained to serve multiple people who need social interaction, recovery motivation, comfort and/or a feeling of safety, according to Service Dogs of Virginia. She also helps lessen the stress secondary trauma prosecutors and office staff often endure due to the nature of their jobs.

To read more about the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office and its responsibilities, visit

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