Louie the Tauranga District Court dog has died.

The 10-year-old black labrador had been a much-respected member of the local justice team since he began his job in 2016.

Louie's role at the Tauranga courthouse was providing comfort and support for children giving evidence, often recounting traumatic experiences, in criminal matters. His uniform was a bright blue Tauranga court jacket.

Owner Gail Bryce - the court's victim adviser - said Louie was "one in a million". And to the best of Bryce's knowledge, Louie was also the only dog performing such a service in New Zealand courts.

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"There are just so many people he has touched. That's an incredible legacy. It's nice for me that lots of people have got it - that he was not just a dog. He was incredible."

Louie came into his role after a couple of young girls needed to testify against their father but were too traumatised to do so.

Former Justice Minister Amy Adams and Tauranga MP Simon Bridges meet Louie at Tauranga District Court in 2016. Photo / file
Former Justice Minister Amy Adams and Tauranga MP Simon Bridges meet Louie at Tauranga District Court in 2016. Photo / file

Bryce spoke to the detective in charge of the case and found out the girls loved dogs. After seeking permission from court authorities to bring Louie in, Bryce introduced him to the girls shortly before they were needed in the courtroom.

The once-off experience soon became a regular service, including Louie often sitting at the feet of young witnesses while they testified.

Louie also developed a fan base, to the point where he had his own Facebook page with nearly 700 followers. Strangers used to greet and pat him during his course of work.

However, in recent weeks Bryce said she noticed Louie had gone off his food, "which for a labrador is pretty unusual". A check with the vet revealed Louie had lymphoma and tumours he could not recover from. On Monday, Louie also went off his water. A vet visited the Bryce household that night and put Louie down.

Bryce also owns two other dogs who now wonder where their furry brother has gone, she said.

"He was so loved," Bryce said.

"Every time I open the fridge I kind of expect him to be there.

"We are devastated. That's the price you pay for love."

Louie also met many politicians in his time, including Minister of Justice Andrew Little, former Justice Minister Amy Adams and National leader and Tauranga MP Simon Bridges.

Former Crown prosecutor Bridges said he was saddened to learn of Louie's death.

"I know as well as anyone that the courtroom can be an incredibly intimidating and stressful experience, and that's before people get to the details that witnesses would have to talk about."

Minister of Justice Andrew Little extended his sympathies to Bryce and the court team.

"I had the pleasure of seeing the impact the presence of a dog has on comforting the people and children in times of stress. I'm considering any opportunities to have court dogs, like Louie, made widely available as part of our justice law reform programme."

Former Minister of Justice Amy Adams posted on Louie's page saying he was "a true gentlemen [sic] and brought happiness and peace to so many".

Louie will be remembered as a very good boy.