Every year, thousands of children face the daunting task of recounting abuse in a courtroom. It's a terrifying ordeal, but Courthouse Facility Dogs are here to help. These well-trained dogs provide support for children navigating the complex legal process.
What is a Courthouse Facility Dog?
Courthouse Facility Dogs support a broad range of people, especially young children, in the courtroom. With their comforting presence and expert training, these dogs significantly reduce the stress of being in court for survivors of trauma being asked to tell their story…and often face their abuser.
Over 300 Courthouse Facility Dogs work in 41 states. The U.S. Senate passed the Courthouse Dogs Act for their use in federal court. The National District Attorneys Association and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children support the bill, which is still being considered in the House.
Helping Children Find Their Voice in Court
Courthouse Facility Dogs make a major impact helping children through legal processes. Children, especially those who have experienced trauma, find the courtroom intensely overwhelming. At the child’s request, the Courthouse Facility Dog can be with them during forensic interviews, court preparation and even on the witness stand when they must recount sensitive, distressing incidents.
Their calming presence helps relax children, enabling them to share their experiences more freely. Sometimes, a child can recall crucial details they previously couldn't because they feel safer with the dog by their side.
Making Communities Safer
Courthouse Facility Dogs’ impact on the legal process is profound. District Attorneys report a higher rate of outcry where the child actually says that something happened. By helping children articulate their experiences more effectively, prosecutors can add more charges to an indictment. And their presence with children during courtroom testimony has been documented to lead to a higher rate of conviction of offenders.
Most importantly, the comfort and confidence that Courthouse Facility Dogs instill transforms a child feeling re-traumatized by the legal process to feeling heard, validated, and stronger on their path to healing.