Child Abuse Victims Find Comfort in Therapy Dog

September 23, 2013 Updated Sep 23, 2013 at 11:36 PM EDT

By John Borsa

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September 23, 2013 Updated Sep 23, 2013 at 11:36 PM EDT

BUFFALO, NY (WKBW) - Meet a very special dog.

"What's so special about Violet?" asks his trainer, Kathleen Gilliam, a volunteer at Child Advocacy Center in Allentown.

Violet is an eight-year-old English Labrador Retriever.

"I would say, she's sweet and loving. She's the most sweet and loving animal that I have ever known."

An animal who gives love to young abuse victims.

"She gives her love very generously and she's very patient, very non-judgmental," Gilliam said.

Helping them deal with the horrors of abuse, in a way adults cannot.

"She won't talk. She won't tell your secrets. Kids tell her all kinds of things. They whisper things into her fur."

Things that no child should ever have to say, even to a dog.

"She's really been a comfort to so many children," said Judith Olin, director at the center.

"Child abuse, nationally, the numbers are going down. But locally, we haven't really seen that here in Erie County," said Olin.

"In 90 percent of the cases, the abuser is someone who is known to the child, a family member, a relative, a neighbor, a teacher, a coach, we've all seen those cases as well."

Making the job of tracking and finding abusers all that more difficult because they blend into the child's life... and for years... can go unnoticed. The best advice? Experts say look for the physical and mental signs of abuse... talk to your kids... and most importantly... listen... just like Violet does.

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