Testifying in court hearings can be nerve-wracking. People at the witness stand may not be able to describe the details of the crime when they are asked by the lawyers. Moreover, it is hard for the victims to recall the harrowing experience in their lives.
Nowadays, some courts in the United States are using dogs to help the persons to be at ease while stating his/her testimony.
Courthouse Dogs have trained assistance dogs in providing companionship to vulnerable individuals inside the court. These dogs are trained to be calm in highly stressful situations.
The people who will benefit from the presence of dogs inside the courthouse are the young kids and primary victims of abuse. These people usually struggle to compose themselves under pressure. Dogs help them to calm down and speak with clarity in front of the judge and the jury.
Courthouse Dogs is a nonprofit organization based in Bellevue, Washington founded in 2004. Its mission is to provide justice with compassion to the legal courts not only in North America but also in some parts of Europe, Australia, and South America.
Dogs are trained for this particular skill for two years. Presently, there are 87 dogs deployed in 28 states. Courthouse Dogs primarily trains Labrador and Golden Retrievers for this job.
Ellen O’Neill Stephens and Celeste Walsen of Courthouse Dogs believe that the presence of dogs in the courtroom will help in comforting vulnerable witnesses in stating the facts of the crime.
Watch this video about the courthouse facility dogs in action:
The dogs are presently trained at San Bernardino District Attorney’s Office so that they will be accustomed to the courthouse setting.
It’s good that more and more courthouses are opening up to the idea of having a courthouse facility dog. However, due to the limited number of dogs qualified for the training, the organization requesting for their dog has to be put on the waitlist.
One thing’s for sure; the courthouse facility dogs are worth the wait!
Video courtesy of cesarhidalgolan via YouTube