Courthouse Dogs Take the Leash to New Standing

Being up on the witness stand in an intimidating courthouse can be a scary event for anyone. For a child, it can be especially frightening, even traumatizing. In order to create a more comforting scenario for children, courts are seeking out a new alternative way for children to be at ease: with a golden retriever.

The Chief Executive Officer of Trinity Superior Court, Cindy VanSchooten, who started the program in Tehama, is now partnering with AMK9 to hare the Courthouse Dog Program permitted in every court in California. Their goal is for the program to be permitted nationwide.

Tehama Superior Court implemented a Courthouse Dog Program to benefit the family court services two years ago. This implementation occurred through small steps. Liabilities, certifications, finances, as well as a trained dog handler, are just a few aspects of the process.

VanSchooten says “The benefit of this program is that children will have a calm animal to soothe their fears and anxieties. Holding that leash and being escorted by a 90 pound dog helps children to feel empowered.”

Courthouse dogs have been used in various capacities. They are an important key tool for assisting in recovery, calming, and psychological needs in the justice system. The project also includes other factors outside the court. Finding the right canine and training can be a wrenching process.

AMK9, is one of the largest canine government agencies in the world. They train dogs for various uses, but their main focus is military service dogs. AMK9 has offered their services to help fund and train dogs for the potential of beginning this program in Trinity Superior Court, and are ready to develop a training curriculum statewide.

Trinity County may be small, but has high hopes for the future. “My hope is 1his program will spread to every court in California,” says VanSchooten. A wagging tail may just be in the future for this small court, as the opportunities have been endless.

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