Courthouse facility dog 'Murph" travels to Virginia Beach to comfort residents

STAUNTON, Va. (WHSV)-- A dog that normally spends his time helping comfort victims and witnesses at the Staunton Courthouse provided his services to help in the aftermath of the recent Virginia Beach mass shooting.

Janet Mizzi-Balser, the Director of the Staunton Victim Witness Program, could not sit idly by when she heard about the shooting at the Virginia Beach Municipal Center on May 31.

She decided to take her facility dog, Murph, to Virginia Beach to offer comfort to those affected by the tragedy.

Murph is a four-year-old Golden Retriever-Lab mix that has helped many victims of violent crimes who have come through her office. The courthouse got Murph back in 2017 to act as a therapy dog and accompany people who have anxiety about testifying. The Queen City was the first in the Valley to have its own courtroom facility dog.

Mizzi-Balser says it was unbelievable that a mass shooting like the one in Virginia Beach could happen so close to home, but she was glad that Murph was able to help.

"He didn't say anything; he just was there, and they would navigate towards him, some telling their stories, others just holding him and crying," Mizzi-Balser said.

Mizzi-Balser says it was incredible to see that Murph could offer his services to comfort those who needed it, even in such tragic situations.