Tuesday, August 30

Courtroom Dogs

Any of you that are regular readers of my blog know that I have a certain affinity for service dogs and therapy dogs.  The reason is that it takes a very special temperament, a special quality in these dogs that literally enjoy helping humans.  As a trainer of a specific therapy dog program, I have watched individuals try to force their dog into this and it doesn't work.  If your dog doesn't have a natural inclination to want to support humans or give away free love, this is just simply not for your dog.  But for the dogs that do enjoy it, it may be one of the most incredible things to witness.

So, when I saw this story, it really spoke to me and I thought about blogging about it, then other things came up, so I never did.  Then last week a friend emailed me the story and I thought, this really needs to be discussed.

The story is about a therapy dog, named Rosie, she is the first courtroom approved therapy dog in New York.  In this particular case, the witness was a 15-year-old girl who was testifying that her father had raped and impregnated her. Rosie sat by the teenager's feet nuzzling her. At particularly bad moments, she leaned in. At the end of the trial, the girl was most grateful for Rosie and just kept hugging her.  

However, after the trial ended in June with the father's conviction, the defense lawyers are planning an appeal all based around Rosie.  The claim is that the dog sways the jury on the side of the prosecution by making it "appear" that the witness is under stress for telling the truth, when in fact they could be lying.  

This obviously is bigger than this one case, it could change the current rulings in the states that allow therapy dogs in the courtroom, to banish them once again.  

This is a wonderful article that I am only speaking on one point.  I encourage you all to read it.  For me, I think courtroom dogs should be allowed in every court where there is a need.  Especially for minor witness'.  The amount of support and reassurance the dog can provide for these children in these horrible situations is truly remarkable.

To read the article, bark on the link:  Bark!