Courthouse Dogs Offer Comfort to Victims
Therapy dogs are seen in all kinds of places--hospitals, nursing homes, and schools are some of the most common. But a new kind of therapy dog is sweeping America: the courthouse dog.
The newest of about 40 courthouse dogs across the country is Faber, a golden retriever who is newly 'employed' with the San Francisco District Attorney's office.
Dogs like Faber are used to comfort victims--often children-- during interviews with prosecutors, public defenders, and even during their testimony. While Faber isn't ready to accompany victims to trial yet, the District Attorney's Office feels he will soon be able to. A dog's calming presence can help nervous or shy children find the courage to tell their story.
While some attorneys have protested that the dogs are a distraction or that they make the victims appear more sympathetic, the majority agree that the dogs are a great addition to the courtroom.
In the first-ever case where a therapy dog was present in the courtroom to calm a witness, the defendant appealed his conviction, arguing that the dog's presence had an effect on the jury's decision. But a four-judge appeals court ruled that since a child witness is allowed to clutch a teddy bear, it is also permissible to allow children to be comforted by a dog's presence.
What do you think about a dog being present in court? Leave your comments below.
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