MARION COUNTY, S.C. (WBTW) — The Marion County Sheriff’s Office was in celebration mode Tuesday for one of its furriest team members.
“Comfort Caj,” the department’s therapy dog, turned 5 years old. Members of the department and the community gathered to celebrate with a party and pet food donation drive benefiting the Marion County Animal Shelter.
Caj’s birthday was a milestone both the department and his handler, Tammy Erwin, didn’t think he would reach.
“What is extra special about (Tuesday) is that when Caj was just a couple of months shy of being two years old, he was diagnosed with a terminal illness and only given six months to live,” Erwin explained. “The fact that he’s turning five (Tuesday) and he’s healthy and he’s doing great and he’s still working hard for Marion County — I’m very excited!”
Comfort Caj is quite special, too. He’s South Carolina’s first sheriff’s office therapy dog for crime victims. Caj is part of the victim services unit, helping comfort victims of crime and their families in Marion County. Erwin and Caj can often be found alongside them during the court process — helping lower stress and the emotional toll of moving through the criminal justice system.
The two have not only made a major impact in the victim services unit, but in the community, as well.
“When we went into this, we had certain ideas of how it’s going to go and that’s not how it’s gone at all,” Erwin admitted. “But Caj has opened the doors for us. We go to the schools. We go to the nursing homes. He allows us to reach populations in Marion County that I never considered needed to be reached.”