Dogs In The Courtroom?

Robert Strand

         The young woman in Seattle was having second thoughts about her testimony in a 2008 trial of the man accused of abducting and raping her. "That's when we brought Ellie on board," said King County senior prosecuting attorney Ellen O'Neill Stephens said. ELLIE isn't a counselor or a psychiatrist. She's an eight-year-old Labrador retriever! The King's County prosecutor's office uses Ellie to help calm victims and witnesses of violent crimes.

dogsleeping         "When things got tough, she was able to focus on Ellie and describe the attack," Stephens said, "She told me that just holding the leash made her feel more in control." The attacker was found guilty and Ellie accompanies the young woman to the sentencing.

         This idea of using dogs to ease the tension of being in a courtroom is gaining popularity in the USA. Courthousedogs.com began in Seattle when Stephens took her son's service dog, Jeeter, to work and discovered that the dog had a calming effect on young witnesses. The practice is spreading to courts in Texas, California, Florida, Missouri and Michigan.

         These courtroom dogs go through at least two years of training including learning basic commands as a puppy and then go to a special training center for six months to learn more advanced commands such as picking up dropped items, opening doors or coping with crowds. (Adapted, USA TODAY)

         Awesome...if dogs can be trained to be helpful, you and I can also be trained as a volunteer to help others! By the way, have you ever given thanks to God for His wonderful creatures?

         "At his gate was laid a beggar named Lazarus, covered with sores...even the dogs came and licked his sores" (Luke 16:20-21).