Children have an exceptionally difficult time testifying in court, but the presence of a therapy dog can provide them with the support they need to open up.
Does anything compare to the warm and fuzzy feeling one gets when an animal walks into a room? Research has shown that even just the presence of animals has a positive effect on a person’s well-being. This is particularly true for children, who identify with animals due to their state of natural innocence.
Court-ordered therapy dogs have been on the rise in the United States for a few years now, and the practice is catching on in other countries. Canada will see one of its first court-ordered therapy dogs participate in a court case this December when police dog Hawk will be there to comfort two children who are testifying in a sexual assault trial.
Hawk, a four-year old black Labrador, joined the police force about a year ago and has been used to help calm people in times of trauma. Hawk’s presence in the upcoming court trial will be of the utmost importance; he will be there to provide comfort and security to a seven-year old girl whose father is accused of sexually assaulting her. Hawk may just give her the confidence she needs to tell her heart-wrenching story in front of a room full of people. Her nine-year old brother will also testify.
There are numerous service dog organizations throughout North America. Many service dog programs rely on volunteers and donations to function. If you’d like to see more dogs offering comfort to children and vulnerable persons in court, donating to a local service dog organization is a wonderful way to help.
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