‘Court dogs’ provide calm for traumatized witnesses

by Rebecca on June 14, 2011

in Animals in the News

The Associated Press
 A 15-year-old girl had special help when she took the witness stand Monday at the trial for the man accused of sexually assaulting her for four years.Rose, an 11-year-old golden retriever whose regular job is helping provide therapy in schools for troubled children, was there at her side, helping to calm a child who experts said is otherwise incapable of talking about her traumatic ordeal.

It’s an unprecedented arrangement in New York and now gaining acceptance elsewhere. Pioneered by a Seattle prosecutor in 2003, courthouse dogs are participating in trials in at least 10 states, often over the objections of defense lawyers who worry that the dogs generate extra sympathy for victims and witnesses.

Read the whole thing at MSNBC

Image: Golden retriever at courthouse

Darryl Bautista  /  AP

Rose, an 11-year-old golden retriever, was used in court on Monday to help calm a victim so that she could testify. With her are David Crenshaw, the clinical director of the Children’s Home of Poughkeepsie, and Sherri Cookinham, Rose’s handler.

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