As early as this summer, the Yamhill County District Attorney’s office may take possession of the state’s first “courthouse dog.”
District Attorney Brad Berry received word in December that the county is in line to receive the dog from Canine Companions for Independence, a nonprofit organization in Santa Rosa, California.
Courthouse dogs sit beside witnesses who might be reluctant or fearful, such as victims of child abuse, and help provide a calm and reassuring presence during stressful situations.
“It takes just a few minutes of observing one of these amazing dogs with a victim to understand what an extraordinary benefit it is,” Berry said. “Watching as the dog lays its head on a child’s lap — the child almost unconsciously stroking it — while talking about difficult topics, leaves no doubt as to the soothing effect this can have.”
Courthouse dogs are also on the job in several other states.
Berry said the county has been told it could receive a dog sometime between May and August.
“We have worked diligently to show CCI (Canine Companions for Independence) not only the need for such an amazing animal in Yamhill County, but that we are ready to receive one and immediately put it to use with victims of crime, especially the most vulnerable victims in our system.”
Posted by jwoestendiek January 30th, 2013 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, brad berry, calming, canine companions for independence, child abuse, court, courthouse dogs, district attorney, dogs, oregon, pets, support, testimony, therapy, victims, witnesses, yamhill county
In Colorado, victims and witnesses who might, for various reasons, have trouble sharing details of a crime with a police officer now have another option — Pella, a Labrador-golden retriever mix who is both kid-friendly and judgment-free.
Pella began her service with the Aurora Police Department this summer, and while she doesn’t track down criminals, the hope is she can help put them behind bars.
Her main role is to work with children and developmentally-disabled adults during the beginnings of investigations, providing some comfort and emotional support when they are interviewed by authorities.
“It’s hard for anyone regardless of their state in life, their age, their background, their ethnicity … to talk to police. It’s just an uncomfortable situation. Pella can just help that anxiety to lessen a bit,” Amber Urban, who’s behind the program, told 9 News in Denver.
Urban was working as a school-resource officer when she started pondering how dogs — outside of tracking suspects and detecting drugs — could help the legal system.
Through Paws Assisting the Legal System, she brought Pella to the Aurora Police Department to work with its Crimes Against Children Unit.
The program is similar to the Courthouse Dogs program that is already in place in other cities.
Pella works a lot at SungateKids, a center where forensic interviewers talk to kids and adults who have either witnessed a crime or been victims of one.
“They’re here to talk about things that are traumatic. They, depending on their age, may not have that recognition of it being traumatic, but they feel it,” Urban said.
Children often pet Pella and hold on to her leash while they’re talking.
“…It’s a little bit better of a connection for a lot of kids to be able to interact with the dog who has no judgment, no opinion. The kids see that and they’re like, ‘Wow, they just like me.’”
Posted by jwoestendiek November 9th, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: amber urban, aurora, aurora police department, children, colorado, comfort, courthouse dogs, courts, crimes, developmentally disabled, emotional, golden retriever, labrador retriever, law enforcement, pals, paws assisting the legal system, pella, sungate kids, support, victims, witnesses
Vivian, a 2-year-old retriever, has joined the district attorney’s office in Marin County, working as a service aide for traumatized crime victims and witnesses, especially children.
According to Marin prosecutors, Vivian is the first service dog to work for a California district attorney’s office.
Vivian is present while the victims are being interviewed, and she recently made her courtroom debut by sitting in the witness box with a 4-year-old alleged domestic violence victim from Novato, according to the Marin Independent Journal.
“When he left, he gave Vivian a big hug and said he wanted to come back and visit her,” said Deputy District Attorney Andrea Buccine, who is the dog’s guardian and spearheaded the effort to bring her into the office.
She and District Attorney Ed Berberian started the program after learning of a similar one in the Seattle area.
The Seattle dogs were provided by a nonprofit called Canine Companions for Independence, located in Santa Rosa, California. The organization breeds, raises and trains therapy dogs to help the disabled, and to work in hospitals, courthouses, schools and other venues.
“It just makes a very nice approach with these young kids,” Berberian said. “It puts them at ease, and helps these interviews go a little easier. It’s just a way to make very undesirable and unnatural situations more bearable for some of these victims.”
At least one defense attorney has problems with the program. Bonnie Marmor, a deputy public defender for the county, said the use of dogs by prosecutors could, like offering them candy or toys, sway their testimony.
Posted by jwoestendiek December 15th, 2009 under Muttsblog.
Tags: andrea buccine, california, canine companions for independence, children, court, courthouse dogs, crime, district attorney, dog, dogs, ed berberian, interviews, kids, marin county, program, service dog, therapy dogs, trials, witnesses
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
Two people were arrested Tuesday after they threw a dog out the window of a moving SUV in New Bedford, Mass., police said.
At first, witnesses thought it was an accident, but then they saw the driver yelling at the dog, according to Fox News
According to police, the pair threw Princess, a 1-year-old Chihuahua, from the window of their SUV as the car was speeding down the street. The couple then drove back around the block.
“These people were overheard laughing, saying that the stupid dog was still there waiting. Turns out that the dog wasn’t so stupid at all, because that allowed witnesses the opportunity to give us the license plate,” New Bedford police Lt. Jeffrey Silva told WCVB-TV in Boston.
Princess wasn’t injured in the incident and will be put up for adoption at a local animal shelter.
Jenny Torres, 31, and Jimmy Correa, 24, were arraigned Wednesday on felony animal abuse and abandonment charges.
Posted by jwoestendiek May 21st, 2009 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: abandonment, animal abuse, arrest, arrested, boston, car, chihuahua, cruelty to animals, license plate, massachusetts, moving, new bedford, police, princess, road, suv, thrown, tossed, vehicle, window, witnesses