We’re not sure we totally buy his argument — we even think it smells a little like one of those Texas tall tales – but we’re 100 percent behind John Mark Cobern’s fight to bring his dog to work in the Titus County Courthouse.
After being notified by the county commissioners that he can no longer keep Belle in his office during the workday, Cobern, the Titus County Attorney, is asking for a ruling from the state attorney general.
Cobern maintains that he keeps Belle with him for protection, and that Belle makes the courthouse a safer place, according to the Austin American-Statesman
“The primary reason for bringing my dog to the county office was to make my office a safer work environment,” he told the attorney general, noting his job puts him in contact with “the mentally ill and potentially unstable individuals.”
As you already know — because you’ve seen the picture — Belle is not a German shepherd, Belgian malinois or Rottweiler.
She’s a dachshund. And she’s 16. And she suffers from a glandular ailment.
Even though it’s a little difficult picturing Belle accosting deranged gunmen, subduing prison escapees or breaking up fights, we don’t totally rule out there could be an action hero beneath her greying fur.
We don’t think Cobern should have to lay legal groundwork to be able to bring his dog to work, but if that’s the route he has chosen he should probably emphasize the calming effect Belle can have, and the ways she can assist him in doing his duty that don’t involve detecting bombs or striking fear into the hearts of thugs.
For Belle is clearly no Texas-sized attack dog.
The commissioners say they decided to ban Belle, and all non-service animals, from the courthouse in Mount Pleasant after a complaint was received about her — but who the complaint came from, and what exactly it was, have not been reported.
Titus County Commissioner Thomas Hockaday took the matter to his colleagues and it was approved, despite opposition from Titus County Judge Brian Lee, who questioned commissioners’ authority to regulate what goes on in the offices of elected officials, such as the county attorney.
Cobern has had Belle since he started law school in Houston. “She laid in my lap for hours at a time while I studied,” he said. “She was always with me, and she is always with me now. I can’t go to the bathroom by myself.”
At the courthouse, Belle spends her time in Cobern’s private office, separate from where his staff is and where the public enters. The glandular ailment Belle suffers from killed an earlier dog of Cobern’s.
Cobern has asked Attorney General Greg Abbott for an official opinion on whether the county commissioners have the authority to regulate whether he — also an elected official — can bring his dog to work.
Abbott is reportedly a dog lover himself, and considers his dog, Oreo, part of his family.
Assuming Belle has not caused severe carnage at the Titus County Courthouse, we hope the attorney general bases his ruling not on dusty law books, but on the heart.
(Photo: Cobern and Belle, courtesy of Cobern)
Posted by jwoestendiek March 21st, 2013 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, attorney general, ban, belle, commissioners, county attorney, courthouse, courthouse dogs, dachshund, dog, dogs at work, elected, greg abbott, john mark cobern, office, officials, opinion, pets, protection, ruling, security, texas, titus county, work
Hundreds of people gathered outside the Marathon County Courthouse in Wisconsin this week during a hearing for a woman who is accused of killing her boyfriend’s dog and describing her ongoing torture of the animal in her diary.
In a packed courtroom, Sean D. Janas, 20, of Wausau, waived her right to a preliminary hearing Wednesday and was ordered to stand trial on charges of felony mistreatment of animals, giving poison to an animal and obstructing an officer.
Janas is accused of poisoning and stabbing Mary, a 4-year-old Laborador-shepherd mix in June.
According to the criminal complaint, Janas kept a diary describing her intense hatred for Mary, and detailing the abuse she inflicted on the dog, included forcing her to drink bleach and Drano over the course of several months.
Janas faces more than five years in prison and $30,000 in fines if convicted. She remained in jail this week on a $2,500 cash bond.
Those attending her hearing — before Marathon County Circuit Judge Mike Moran — were required to walk through metal detectors, and Marathon County Sheriff’s deputies searched briefcases and handbags, according to the Wausau Daily Herald.
Before and after the hearing, protesters circled the courthouse, seeking justice for Mary and demanding more laws and tougher penalties to combat animal abuse.
“We don’t have tough enough laws that protect animals, and I believe vets should have to report any suspected abuse, just like they would in a child,” said Kelli Obremski, 42, of Mosinee, who brought both her children and her boxer to the protest.
“We’ll come to every appearance we can,” Obremski said. “It’s that important.”
(Photo: Sean D. Janas mugshot)
Posted by jwoestendiek November 2nd, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: abuse, accounts, animal cruelty, animals, bleach, boyfriend, county, courthouse, cruelty to animals, descriptions, diary, dog, dogs, drano, hatred, marathon, mary, pets, poison, poisoned, poisoning, protest, sean janas, stabbed, stabbing, wausau, wisconsin
South Carolina Circuit Judge Diane Goodstein’s habit of bringing her dogs to work was never a problem in the old courthouse, but since opening a spiffy new one, Dorchester County Council members are squawking about it.
Amid rumors that there have been doggie ”accidents” inside the shiny new $13 million courthouse in St. George, the county council — though it lacks the authority to set rules for the courthouse — has instructed the county attorney to draft a letter to the clerk of court “requesting” that animals not be allowed on the premises, except for service animals.
“The taxpayers paying for the building don’t bring their dogs to work. Other county employees don’t bring their dogs to work. Frankly, I’m surprised I’m having to make this request,” Council Chairman Jamie Feltner said.
The request leaves County Clerk of Court Cheryl Graham, a pet lover and board member of the local SPCA in an awkward spot, the Charleston Post and Courier reported. “That’s mighty nice of the council to put that on me,” she told the newspaper.
“It’s a little bit of an embarrassment that it would be an issue,” Judge Goodstein said. Her dogs are well-trained and haven’t soiled the courthouse’s hallowed halls, she said. She thinks the “accident” rumor might have stemmed from one day when she got down on her hands and knees to clean a construction worker’s mud tracks from the floor.
The judge, who routinely brought her Cavalier King Charles spaniel, Boykin spaniel and Airedale to work with her in the old courthouse — vacated earlier this year — says she’ll comply with whatever verdict the clerk of court reaches.
Posted by jwoestendiek November 11th, 2009 under Muttsblog.
Tags: accidents, allowed, allowing, building, cheryl graham, circuit judge, clerk of court, council, county, courthouse, diane goodstein, dog, dogs, dorchester, jamie feltner, judge, letter, mess, new, request, rules, rumor, soiling, south carolina, st. george, workplace
Dogs aren’t just permitted in Washington state’s King County Courthouse, they work there — serving to calm the nerves of intimidated witnesses and make their testimony flow more freely.
In addition to serving as companions for traumatized victims of child abuse who are testifying in court, the dogs are used for a variety of other courthouse purposes, according to a recent article in the Dallas Morning News.
According to the Courthouse Dogs website, dogs have been helping seek justice in Seattle since 2003.
The dogs provide comfort to sexually abused children while they undergo forensic interviews and testify in court, assist drug court participants in their recovery, visit juveniles in detention facilities, greet jurors and in general lift the spirits of courthouse staff.
Ellen O’Neill-Stephens, a prosecutor in Seattle, launched Courthouse Dogs in 2003 after using a service dog – Jeeter – for her son who has cerebral palsy.
She was in Dallas this week to make a presentation on the progam to the 21st annual Crimes Against Children Conference, sponsored by the Dallas Children’s Advocacy Center and the Dallas Police Department.
“Sometimes, these children will say things to the dog that they’re too embarrassed to say to a person,” Stephens said. “We had a girl who had been severely abused and she could never talk about it. But she petted Jeeter for over 90 minutes straight and she was able to tell what happened.”
Stephens said the courthouse dogs are usually golden or Labrador retrievers who go through an intensive training regimen. Only about 30 percent of the dogs that start out actually make it, she said.
She said she believes that the highly skilled canines can often be the difference in a conviction or not guilty verdict in child abuse cases.
“These children are suffering acute emotional trauma,” she said. “These dogs can help them get through that.”
(Photo courtesy of www.courthousedogs.org)
Posted by jwoestendiek August 21st, 2009 under Muttsblog.
Tags: calm, child abuse, courthouse, courthouse dogs, courts, crime, criminal justice, dogs, ellen o'neill-stephens, forensic, justice, king county, nerves, prosecutor, seattle, sexual abuse, testimony, trauma, washington, witnesses