The District Attorney for Suffolk County, Dan Conley ’80 always says that he developed his passion for the law while studying at Stonehill, giving special recognition to Politics Professor Charles Serns, who was his pre-law advisor, and to Economics Professor Robert Rosenthal and Political Science Professor James Millikan
Today, Conley is the chief law enforcement officer for the largest DA’s office in New England and he has a new ally in reaching out to victims of crime--Indy, a two year old golden retriever and Labrador mix who is specially trained to be a source of comfort to people in emotional stress. And, Indy is the first facility dog to be placed in a DA’s office in the Commonwealth or in any government agency in New England.
“Navigating the criminal justice system can be daunting even for someone who isn’t in crisis,” Conley said. “But for someone afraid and uncertain about describing a traumatic event before a room full of strangers, it can be overwhelming. That’s where Indy comes in. He’s specially trained to be a source of comfort to people, especially children, in emotional turmoil.”
Unlike service dogs who are trained to help a specific person, usually with a disability, Indy is a facility dog who offers comfort and stress relief to many people, often strangers. Indy was provided to the Suffolk DA’s office last month at no cost by Canine Companions for Independence after an extensive application process and handler training regimen.
“Serving victims is at the very heart of our work as prosecutors and anytime we find a resource or an option that can help victims to navigate the criminal justice system, we will use it. My Stonehill professors kept me on my toes intellectually, constantly testing me to stay ahead of things and to be on the lookout for fresh angles when dealing with a challenge. That’s what we are doing with Indy, finding new and better ways of helping victims,” Conley noted.
He added, “ Our canine friends have a lot to offer us and I know that Stonehill, like many colleges, has used puppies to relieve stress during exam periods. We are looking forward to working with Indy for the next four years or more.”
In 2012, Conley delivered the Commencement address at the College and received an honorary doctor of laws degree. In 2007, Stonehill’s pre-law students honored Conley by presenting him with the St. Thomas More Award in recognition of his commitment to public service.
For more on DA Conley’s collaboration with facility dog Indy, visit here.