Amanda

By Amanda

LifeBuzz Staff

It’s Scary To Testify In Court, But These Dogs Give Victims The Courage They Need…

Every year, children in America suffer the unthinkable: Many are permanently removed from their homes after suffering horrific acts of abuse by their caretakers. After months of therapy with professionals, they remain terrified and traumatized, unable to express what had happened to them. Unfortunately, the time then comes for them to testify in court, a task that seems to be impossible given their mental states.

Unfortunately, this situation is common. But retired prosecuter Ellen O'Neill Stephens and veterinarian Celeste Walsen think they have found a solution: Bring dogs into the courtroom to comfort the witnesses.

They started Courthouse Dogs, an organization that incorporates dogs into the courtroom to comfort witnesses.

Ellen and Celeste advocate for the presence of dogs in the courtroom, as well as in child advocacy centers and in prosecution interview rooms.

Ellen and Celeste advocate for the presence of dogs in the courtroom, as well as in child advocacy centers and in prosecution interview rooms.

Ellen and Celeste/Courthouse Dogs

Their thinking behind the idea is that the presence of the dogs will ultimately calm the victims, empowering them to speak more freely about their trauma.

Their thinking behind the idea is that the presence of the dogs will ultimately calm the victims, empowering them to speak more freely about their trauma.

Ellen and Celeste/Courthouse Dogs

"We count on dogs to tell us when there's a bad guy around," Celeste said in an interview. "So when we're in the presence of a relaxed dog, it makes us feel that we're in a safe place, which can lower our blood pressure and reduce anxiety."

"We count on dogs to tell us when there's a bad guy around," Celeste said in an interview.  "So when we're in the presence of a relaxed dog, it makes us feel that we're in a safe place, which can lower our blood pressure and reduce anxiety."

Ellen and Celeste/Courthouse Dogs

The dogs undergo years of training before making it to the courtroom. Trainers introduce stress to the young dogs — like putting them on a cold metal surface — and then picking them up and soothing them with cuddles.

The dogs undergo years of training before making it to the courtroom. Trainers introduce stress to the young dogs — like putting them on a cold metal surface — and then picking them up and soothing them with cuddles.

Seattle Times

By the time they're adults, the dogs are fully equipped to handle high-stress situations.

By the time they're adults, the dogs are fully equipped to handle high-stress situations.

Atsuko Otsuka

Currently, there are about 87 of these dogs working in 28 states. Most of the dogs are labs or golden retrievers.

Currently, there are about 87 of these dogs working in 28 states. Most of the dogs are labs or golden retrievers.

Meegan M. Reid/Kitsap Sun

Celeste and Ellen hope that this sort of therapy will eventually become commonplace in the courtroom, especially when it comes to dealing with young victims.

Celeste and Ellen hope that this sort of therapy will eventually become commonplace in the courtroom, especially when it comes to dealing with young victims.

Tapani Romppainen.

What do you think about this unusual courtroom method?

Source: Upworthy

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