On April 8, during a free luncheon open to the public, Platte County will present its 14th annual Sara Andrasek Memorial Award to the first non-human recipient: Rasta, the therapy dog.
The annual award is part of the Platte County Prosecuting Attorney's Office Victims' Rights Luncheon, hosted annually by the office as part of National Crime Victims' Rights Week. The public is invited to attend the free luncheon and meet Rasta. The event will be held at Noon on Monday April 8, at the Platte City United Methodist Church, 14040 State Hwy N Platte City, Missouri 64079.
Rasta is a therapy dog at Synergy Services in Parkville. He recently completed his first trial as a courtroom therapy dog, accompanying two child victims while they testified to a jury about sexual abuse they suffered.
Platte County Prosecuting Attorney Eric Zahnd said, "We created this annual award to recognize those who provide comfort, care, and compassion to victims of crime, and Rasta has done exactly that. He may not be human, but the healing he provides for young victims of crime is truly amazing."
Rasta's handler, Jennifer Vernon, who is the Director of Child, Youth, and Family Clinical Services at Synergy, will speak at the luncheon.
The Sara Andrasek Memorial Award honors the young Platte County woman who was pregnant with her first child when she was raped and murdered. Zahnd’s office and the Kansas City Missouri Police Department were in the final stages of preparing a death penalty case against Wayne Dumond for those crimes when Dumond died while in custody.
The free luncheon, which anyone is welcome to attend, is part of National Crime Victims’ Rights Week, which runs from April 7 through April 13. This year’s theme “Honoring Our Past. Creating Hope for the Future.”
Zahnd’s office has hosted an event as part of the national observance since 2006. The luncheon aims to support victims of crime and recognize those who dedicate their lives to working on behalf of victims.
If you have any questions about the event, please contact Tanya Faherty at (816) 858-3476.
Eric G. Zahnd
Platte County Prosecuting Attorney
415 Third Street, Suite 60
Platte City, Missouri 64079