Fox 10 in Phoenix filed this report about the county Maricopa County Attorney Office and their therapy dog program to comfort victims and witnesses. Watch video via the link, and read the transcript below.
Female Anchor: Well, the county Attorney has gone to the dogs but it’s not what you think; they are therapy dogs brought in by the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office.
Male Anchor: These dogs are meant to help traumatized crime victims and witnesses gain the courage to testify in court. It’s a program you’ve probably never heard about, but it is growing.
Steve Krafft has been looking into it, he joins us live now with the story. This is a great idea.
Steve Krafft: It’s a great idea, you are absolutely right
The program is five years old and started with one dog, a second dog joined last year, and a third today. All of them working for the county Attorney’s Office. Sometimes they are even in the courtroom.
Ellie, Tori and Sam. Three dogs who have a way to calm people, even in the most stressful moments.
Bill Montgomery: But, over the course of the program, our canines have worked with over 400 child and adult crime victims, and in an effort to try to measure overall the impact, they have had over 6000 service contacts.
Steve: Three employees of the county Attorney’s Office serve as dog handlers.
Mary Picard: Tori is just wonderful at providing comfort and support to victims. She can sense the stress as well and a lot of times she’ll actually sit on the victim’s feet to provide comfort when she can feel that stress.
Steve: These dogs are so mellow, it is weird,
Unidentified Handler: It is part of their training
Steve: How did you do this? How did you train them?
Rhonda Stewart: Well, A lot of the testing comes from just the personality of the dogs. One of the qualifiers for this programs is you have to have a dog that’s going to be very mellow and quiet and be able to sit for a long period of time
Steve: Sam is a Golden Retriever/ Irish Setter, Tori is an English Labrador Retriever, and Ellie is a Golden Retriever.
Tell me your viewpoint of the justice system here in Maricopa County? Ok.
Ellie, how ‘bout you. I don’t want to leave you out; So, what’s it like comforting people in court?
These courtroom veterans keep their opinions to themselves. plenty of us could learn from them.
Dogs are smarter, let’s face it. When the dogs are in court to comfort a witness or a victim, they stay out of sight of the jury.
The dogs live at home with their handlers who tell us that when they’re not on the job they like to play Frisbee, do all those normal dog things, like to play and get into trouble
Reporting live Steve Krafft, Fox 10 news.