Dogs are more than a pet for us. They have always been considered as human’s reliable friends and great companion. Now these lovely friends are trained to assist crime victims,witnesses?and others in the court.
No matter you are an introvert or extrovert, speaking in the public might be nerve-wracking. Not to mention when you speak in the court. The solemn judge, the aggressive attorneys and the jury will make you even more overwhelmed. Ellen O’Neill Stephens and Celeste Walsen, founders of the Courthouse Dogs, LLC, believe that dogs can help alleviate these situations by bring the consolation to the people who are easily tense.
O’Neill says when someone recalls a traumatic incident, he or she might be tangled by the sad memory and thus goes through depress and anxiety. The drastic debate in court would make it even worse. Many of them may be having panic attack. When surrounded by a dog, we feel safe. This can help decrease the blood pressure and feel at ease again.
The Courthouse Dogs, founded in 2004, is a non-profitable organization with 87 courthouse dogs that serve in 28 states of America. Most of them are golden retrievers and Labrador retrievers or a combination of the two breeds that are professionally trained for 2 years. These dogs have to spend 18 months with a volunteer raiser and take weekly obedience lessens. They also need six more months of work with a dog trainer. During the training, they will be accessed by the organization’s trainer whether they are suitable for the court.
Deputy Prosecutor in Indiana’s Porter County, Cheryl Polarek believes that dogs supply the warmth and compassion that are often missing in the court. He says, “Everyone wants something from the child in the criminal justice system,” says Polarek. “But the only agenda a dog has is the child; the dog is the only there just for the child.”