A Service Dog for Children Who Are Victims and Witnesses

A service dog for children

Dogs are amazing animals.  Probably most of us who own one believe this.  I read about a dog that provides a service different from others I am aware of.  This particular dog used to be a stray that was discovered at a Humane Society shelter. 

This dog becomes a companion for children when they are required to testify in court cases – particularly family abuse cases.  This has to be extremely stressful for the child, both before, during, and after the court appearance.

But this dog is a great comfort to them.  He has a calming effect on them so they can relax for their testimony.

The interesting thing is that this is not just some docile dog.  Instead, it is very active and playful after a day at work.

The article I read was in Dogster.com.  It is entitled, “Stray Grows Up to Be a Support Dog for Victims and Witnesses” by Pamela Mitchell.  The article describes a service dog for children – the stray dog that provides a tremendous service to these kids.

Here is a quote from the article:

Sam works primarily on cases involving sexual abuse or family violence, helping victims and witnesses as young as five emotionally handle the interview, trial, and sentencing process.

“The kids just love him,” Stewart said during an interview in her downtown office, where Sam has his own area complete with comfy bed and plenty of toys thanks to PetSmart, which also provides his food and grooming through a partnership with the program. “When we have kids involved in a case, we start building rapport a month or two before trial, so they can get to know the prosecutor, get to feel comfortable before having to talk about the horrible things that have happened.”

She explained that simply by being his laidback and loving self, “Sam makes it easier, less stressful for the kids to talk. He bridges the gap. The prosecutor can ask, ‘Do you have dogs at home,’ and from there the conversation starts. Coming into our office is no longer something the kids dread,” Stewart said, adding that “The ultimate hope is less secondary trauma, that the kids look back and remember Sam, opposed to being retraumatized by a cold, dark criminal justice system.”

The entire article can be read here.

I have heard that a dog can be helpful to children who are autistic or have other health issues.  But have you heard of a service dog for children who are victims and witnesses in court cases – maybe involving their parents?  Dogs are amazing animals!!  Thanks for your comments.

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