Therapy dogs are used in many different capacities, and the District 21 DA’s office is now taking advantage of their therapy skills.
“I wasn’t sure how it was going to work at first, but it’s just been a hit with witnesses and victims and not only them but our staff,” said District 21 District Attorney Greg Mashburn.
Testifying in court can be terrifying for anyone, but especially for a child that has been through a traumatic experience. That’s where Bear and Willa, the therapy dogs, come in.
“That just calms them down immediately, they get on the floor and play, and we get to start that conversation where we have to talk to them about the court process,” said Mashburn.
Assistant District Attorney Jonathan Fried, is Bear’s handler and said that the dogs have a way of absorbing the stress felt by the victims.
“These victims have to tell strangers and jurors exactly what happened to them we have the dogs there to help comfort them,” said Fried.
The program was started in 2016. Dogs are allowed in court with kids under 13, but that age group will soon be expanded to include kids up to 18 years old.