The Contra Costa County DA's office has a new employee: it's a dog

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The Contra Costa County District Attorney’s Office has a new employee: Bear, a 2-year-old Labrador retriever, whose job will be focused on helping victims of crimes, especially children.

Bear was trained by Canine Companions for Independence, and bred for "optimal temperament" to work with children and adults in courtrooms, public settings, and in facilities where stress levels are high, the DA's office said in a statement on Monday. He is able to respond to over 40 commands and has already learned several of his commands in Spanish.

Bear's handler, assistant inspector Janet Era was certified by Assistance Dogs International. Both she and Bear had to pass standardized practical tests and have continuous ongoing testing to keep their team certification current.   

“Being partnered with Bear has brought a sense of calm to the environment we work in," Era said in a statement. "Observing the change he instantly makes in a victim’s life makes me grateful to be partnered with him." 

Canine Companions for Independence provided Bear and the training, valued at about $50,000, at no cost to the DA.

When he's not working, Bear might be relaxing, having a treat of his favorites: apples and carrots.