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Dozens remember beloved courthouse dog who helped hundreds of Hawaii crime victims

HONOLULU (KHON2) - Dozens gathered at Mission Memorial Auditorium Thursday to pay their respects to Hawaii's first courthouse dog.

Pono died last month from lymphoma. She was 10 and a half years old.

She joined the city Department of the Prosecuting Attorney in June 2011, and helped hundreds of crime victims and witnesses as they testified in grand jury rooms and courtrooms.

"Pono was the emotional and sometimes spiritual support for people going through criminal justice system," said Dennis Dunn, director of the Victim/Witness Kokua Services and one of Pono's primary handlers. "In many instances, we found that children who otherwise didn't want to open up and talk about what happened to them, those individuals suddenly, when they had Pono there, they're relaxed and were willing to share all sorts of things. It was amazing, like turning on a switch."

Pono loved costumes, so guests were asked to dress up for Thursday's tribute.

Pono was born in New Zealand on Oct. 13, 2007, and was trained by Assistance Dogs of Hawaii on Maui.

She was so effective that the Department of the Prosecuting Attorney will acquire another courthouse dog from Assistance Dogs of Hawaii.

That dog is expected to join in August.

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