I have heard of many types of service dogs. There are guide dogs, hearing dogs, seizure alert/response dogs, but until now I had not heard of a “courtroom dog”. It seems that canines are being used to help crime victims handle the outcome of violence and abuse.
Jill Felice started Assistance Dogs of the West which is located in Santa Fe, New Mexico. She has students train the dogs to learn to listen to “little voices”. The key Jill says is to instill calm and trust. The dogs help people release the hormone oxytocin that fosters trust and bonding instead of the stress hormone, cortisol. The presence of the dogs helps the children tell their story to the court. More of the caniines dogs from Assistance Dogs of the West are finding work in the judicial system, helping child victims and witnesses find a voice to testify in court.
Dozer and Lupe are two Labradors that have their own office and work for DA Michael Ramos in San Bernardino, California. Wally and Giovanni have joined the FBI as the bureau’s first crisis response canines. The dogs comfort victims and families and help relieve the stress caused by the victims’ experiences.
If you would like to view the interview conducted by PBS Newshour, you can view it here.