LEE COUNTY, Ala.- When Lee County District Attorney Brandon Hughes was running for office, he wanted to get a victim advocate dog for the office if he had the chance to.

After he won the election, he began to look into it. While researching, he learned there is a company in Opelika: Global Canine Solutions. The company trains dogs for various purposes, with one of them becoming victim advocate dogs. A few weeks ago, thanks to the generosity of the Opelika Rotary Club, they made Hughes’ dream a reality.

The new member of the office is a two-year-old, yellow lab named Chunk.

Chunk is a victim advocate dog. His goal is to decrease stress for crime victims and witnesses that come into the office or testify in court. He will also be an asset at the Child Advocacy Center when children come in for interviews.

“You just think, how much better is someone able to tell their story in front of 12 strangers if they have the comfort of Chunk at their feet or, if they’re willing to just come in and talk to us or testify for the grand jury when they have a partner like Chunk at their side,” Hughes said. “You can prepare witnesses, especially child witnesses as much as you want to. You can take them into courtroom, you can sit them at the witness stand, you can tell them where everybody is going to be, but until they get in there with 12 strangers looking at them, they can’t really be prepared for that.”

In his two weeks of learning the ropes of the office, Chunk has brought a smile to everyone’s face. When he is at the office, he is all business, but when he goes home with his handler, Assistant District Attorney Melissa Gowan, he is a normal dog that loves to curl up on the couch or jump in the bed.

Gowan said the office is able to give Chunk something he has not had his whole life: a permanent home.

“If I could be a foster parent, I would,” Gowan said. “For me, this is like having a foster child- someone that I can teach. We love him. We’re not going to give up on him, even with his quirks. We’re going to take him home everyday. Everyone in this office going to be his family. This is home.”

“He’s going to do much, much more for us than we will ever do for him,” Hughes said.