Dogs are well known for their abilities to assist police, search and rescue teams, and those with disabilities. Their loving demeanor and eager-to-please personalities make them the pupfect candidates to lend a paw in almost any situation. The overachieving canines are even making moves towards becoming a staple in the legal system.
The Washington Post recently covered the story about a dog named Caber. The adoring Labrador Retriever assisted a 10-year old girl during her sexual assault trial in British Columbia. The trial marks the first time a dog has been used in a British Columbia courtroom.
During trial, Caber lay at the young girl’s feet, comforting her as she testified. Caber’s handler, Delta Police Victim Services coordinator Kim Gramlich, said the girl held Caber’s leash during her lengthy testimony and bent down to pet him several times. At one point, the girl even lay down to cuddle and play with Caber a bit.
Caeber is one of Canada’s six accredited victim assistance dogs, introduced to the court system through a pilot program run by the Delta Police Victim Services and Surrey Crown Counsel Office (try and say that in one bark).
Although it’s a first for British Columbia, dogs have provided support to victims elsewhere in the past. The New York Times reported a Golden Retriever named Rosie nuzzled a 15-year old girl as she testified that her father had sexually assaulted her.
The American Bar Association documented a Maryland child abuse case in which an 11-month-old Black Labrador/Newfoundland mix named Buddy assisted a four-year-old child.
Currently there are 78 dogs offering support in courthouses across 28 states according to the nonprofit Courthouse Dogs Foundation and that number continues to grow.
So what exactly are courthouse dogs? How are they trained and what do they do?
Courthouse dogs are professionally trained facility dogs that have graduated from an accredited service dog organization. They assist crime victims and witnesses during criminal investigations and trials. While they do provide support, facility dogs are not service dogs.
They do not assist people with disabilities or have public access. Instead, they assist professionals by enhancing the quality of their work. A courthouse dog’s handler is a working professional in the criminal field. Check out the video below to learn more about these awesome puppers:
To learn more about the standards and training of courthouse dogs visit courthousedogs.org
Featured image via Courthouse Dogs