Court.house Dogs Assist Vict.ims Of C.r.i.m.e In Gaining The Courage To Testify

The children had been traum.atiz.ed, so they discovered the one thing that could save them…

Although going through a t.r.a.u.m.a.t.i.c ordeal is a difficult and painful experience, many v.i.c.t.i.m.s are forced to relive the event when they enter the legal system and face the defendant in a court of law.

Witnesses, particularly children, frequently struggle under the stress of such circumstances. This is why Court.house Dogs was founded.

Court.house Dogs was founded by Ellen O’Neill Stephens and Celeste Walsen to alleviate the stress and anxiety that v.i.c.t.i.m.s of c.r.i.m.e face in court.

The non-profit organization trains facility dogs specifically for use by legal professionals to help comfort witnesses in courtrooms.

A facility dog differs from a service dog in that it does not assist a disabled person. The facility dog, on the other hand, aids professionals by improving the quality of their work.

The dogs have been specially trained not to disrupt court proceedings and to interact with victims and/or witnesses who may be called to testify in court.

While working as a deputy prosecuting attorney, Ellen O’Neill-Stephens had the idea that dogs could help. “I witnessed firsthand how stressful it was for v.i.c.t.i.m.s and witnesses to testify in court.” There had to be a better way to find the truth without causing people emotional distress.”

“This idea came to me when my disabled son, Jeeter, received a service dog. I realized that this type of dog could help people through the legal process after seeing how comforting this dog was for him and everyone else who encountered it.”

Court dogs must pass the same tests that certified guide dogs must pass to ensure that they are safe in public. That’s why teaching a facility dog what to do can take up to two years.

“Unfortunately, getting a dog requires some time on the waiting list,” Court.house Dogs says. “However, the wait is well worth it.”

The dogs with the gentlest and quietest temperaments are the best candidates for working as court.house dogs. Although establishing a court.house facility dog program can take some time due to the political stakeholders involved, there have been many success stories as a result of the dogs.

One of Ellen’s favorite success stories demonstrates the impact that one of these dogs can have. She described what happened as follows:

“A five-year-old boy witnessed his mother’s boyfriend severely abusing her. In addition, the boyfriend doused his mother and himself in gasoline and threatened to set them on fire. The young boy dialed 911, and he and his mother were quickly taken to a shelter for their own safety.”

“However, the little boy became so t.r.a.u.m.a.t.i.z.e.d by this that he completely stopped talking.” He would put his hand down his throat as if he were trying to vomit when pressed. He was taken into the office of the King County Prosecutor to speak with an interviewer about what had happened.”

“After his mother informed the interviewer that her son was unlikely to speak, the interviewer inquired if her son was fond of dogs. He, she said, was a dog lover. As a result, he met Ellie, a court.house facility dog, and the two of them played together before the interview.”

“Once the interview started, Ellie snuggled up next to him, and he was finally able to tell the interviewer what had happened. She would snuggle in closer to the boy when he struggled to speak.”

“See, Ellie loves me,” he said to the interviewer after this happened. He was able to finish the interview because she was there to provide comfort, and he kissed her before they left the room.”

Court.house Dogs has dogs assigned to court.house facilities in 28 states across the United States. Legal professionals who want to use professionally trained facility dogs can get education and advice from the group. Court.house Dogs has a website where you can learn more about their work.

Share with your family and friends the important work that court.house dogs do!

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