Friday, December 15, 2006

Therapy Dogs for Prosector's Office

Prosecutor Ellen O'Neill-Stephens writes about the therapy dogs used by the King County Prosecutor's Office, who are especially helpful with child witnesses. Courthouse Canines Reach Out to Those in Need, Bar Bull., Nov. 2006.

The first story O'Neill-Stephens relates is of a 5-year-old boy who, along with his mother, was beaten and doused with gasoline by her boyfriend. He wasn't able to talk about it with therapists or his mother until Ellie the dog snuggled with him.

The program began with a dog named Jeeter, who usually works with O'Neill-Stephens's son but goes to work with her on some days. It turned out that Jeeter was great at helping traumatized children stay calm when being interviewed. Prosecutors saw how helpful the dog was and successfully applied to Canine Companions for Independence for another dog -- and that's Ellie, who works full-time for the office.

Dec. 22 update: A reader sent me Children's Victim Advocates Have Four Legs, Fur, Gainesville Sun, Aug. 26, 2006. Four Legged Advocates (Florida)(FLA FLA) was founded by a sexual assault counselor, recalling the support she had received from her own dog after she was assaulted herself. Volunteers with this nonprofit group work with victims in a variety of settings. It sounds like a great program. Thanks for the tip, reader!

By the way, the Seattle Times featured the King County dogs in a story last year: Dogs Lend Comfort to Kids in Court, Seattle Times, May 14, 2005.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Courthouse Canines Reach Out to Those in Need

Updated link for the King County Bar Article so people can visit it