Our Legal System Is Going To The Dogs

In Poughkeepsie, New York in 2011 a canine was allowed, inside the courtroom to comfort a young rape victim who had to identify her father as her attacker.

Since then, dogs are continuing to show up in courtrooms offering support to victims who could use the boost. This month a canine was in a courtroom in Brooklyn, New York during a sentencing hearing. Sitting right next to a woman who had to give details, of the 5 months that she and her daughter were held captive. As the result of a recent court ruling, canines may now enter a courtroom and accompany women and children that have to give testimony. Canines have therapeutic qualities and seem to offer courage, strength and hope to those in need.

Dogs being sworn in as official therapy dogs in court.

In Monroe County, Indiana they have begun a pilot program of training dogs to provide comfort to the youth and battered women, who have to testify in court.

Valeri Haughton-Motley, Monroe County Circuit Court Judge, said that she did not consider herself to be a “dog person” but she immediately noticed the calming effects of the dog’s presence. The wise judge agreed that nothing but good things could come from having canines in the courtroom as witness support.

These dogs take their jobs seriously.

The training for an average theraputic dog will cost $1600 and take between 6-24 months for the dogs to get certifications, which will allow them to enter a courtroom. They are expected to work for approximately 8-10 years. Monroe is the second county next to Porter, in the state of Indiana that allows the use to canines to comfort witnesses and many dog handlers offer their services for free.

Last year a dog was actually called to testify in a French courtroom, and he wasn’t the first canine to sit in the witness stand. He was questioned about his owner’s death. They didn’t get very far with the witness, but good for the judge who allowed it. He is inspiring to the dog-loving community.