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Dog Helps Child Testify in the Courthouse

Dog Helps Child Testify in the Courthouse

Good girl, Maddie.

A certified therapy dog, Labrador-Golden Retriever mix Maddie, recently played the role of supporting a young girl testifying in the courtroom in Colorado. A first for a dog in the courtroom, Maddie helped the young girl reveal the details concerning a sexual assault case that she wasn’t able to communicate without the presence of the calming dog. Directly before and after the trial, Maddie and the girl played together.

Defense attorneys were concerned about the ability of jurors to remain objective and neutral in the presence of a therapy dog. To help combat that issue, Maddie was hidden at the feet of the testifying child and was not actually seen by the jury, even though they were informed of her presence.

Reading programs are growing in popularity in which children practice their reading skills with certified therapy dogs. It makes sense that man’s best friend would also provide comfort to traumatized children as well and help them give evidence needed for prosecution.

What do you think? Should certified therapy dogs be allowed in the courthouse?

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Source: Dogster and Aurora Sentinel

Read more: Children, Dogs, Family, Humor & Inspiration, Pets, , , , , ,

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Lisa Spector

Lisa Spector is a concert pianist, Juilliard graduate, and canine music expert. She is co-founder of Through a Dog's Ear, the first music clinically demonstrated to calm the canine nervous system. Their new high-tech pet gadget, iCalmDog, is the portable solution to canine anxiety. Lisa shares her home and her heart with her two "career change" Labrador Retrievers from Guide Dogs for the Blind, Sanchez and Gina. Follow Lisa's blog here.


+ add your own
7:14PM PDT on May 17, 2013

Absolutely no problem having service dogs available to whomever needs them in a courtroom.

6:58PM PDT on May 17, 2013



AND, YES They should be allowed in courtrooms.

4:26AM PDT on Aug 29, 2012

Thank you.

4:29PM PDT on Aug 28, 2012

Some of the children I work with have been sexually abused (often by family members or those known to them). With younger children especially, this experience frequently destroys their trust in human beings. Sitting in a crowded court room is not the ideal place to talk with them, even worse, to actually fire questions at them. This mistrust/fear of humans is not transferred to non-humans. In-fact the bond between child and say a dog or cat is often strengthened. The first (obvious) question we should ask is “do we want the truth to be revealed as opposed to simply going through the motions of a trial that could end in the acquittal of the guilty?” If the child will not speak, we then need to ask “if so, what is the optimum way of achieving this?”

One method now used in the UK is to interview the child in a separate room with the proceedings conveyed to the court via CCTV. Questioning an abused child cannot be done by someone with just a qualification in law, it takes specialised training and experience with children. I have witnessed many occasions when a child rapist has walked free because the child refuses to talk to anyone in court. If the child trusts a dog (or any other creature) to the point where they will speak in their presence, then that must be permitted under conditions that ensure a fair trial. Using CCTV removes the need to hide the animal from the jury’s view as the camera focus is just on the child.

8:29AM PDT on Aug 28, 2012

Children love animals, I wish grown people would learn to love like little children who are innocent towards animals. Once we have that love like children for our four legged friends, they will live longer and happier lives and will bless us in sooooooooooo many many many ways.

8:27AM PDT on Aug 28, 2012

Yes, allow them in the courtroom. Afterall, having placed their paw on the good book, they always tell the truth.

6:04AM PDT on Aug 28, 2012

Aren't animals wonderful . . . .

3:28AM PDT on Aug 28, 2012

great idea! of course they will help to calm the children.

10:08AM PDT on Jul 3, 2012

Yes it makes sense...............

5:51PM PDT on May 31, 2012

It makes total sense!

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

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