Molly B is a lab mix puppy who will prepare the city for a courthouse dog in Staunton, Virginia as it is presumed that this is a good way of relieving stress for witnesses or victims through the difficult stages of the legal proceedings.
According to the founder of the Courthouse Dogs Foundation Ellen O’Neill-Stephens, “In the United States children as young as four years of age are expected to go into court and face the defenders while they testify in court and have little or no accommodations for them to deal with this. When they have a dog present they are better able to describe what happened and feel less traumatized by it.”
The dogs fit for this task are quite a bit more than regular dogs due to their special breed and due to the training they received. These preparations make them worth up to $50,000 but Staunton managed to get one free of charge for their program due to the Canine for Companions for Independence non-profit organization which tries to enhance the lives of people with disabilities through the provision of trained assistance dogs.
The organization also helps the legal professionals how to benefit from the aid of these dogs and through their calming effect they can allow many witnesses to feel safer and in control. This means that with the help of dogs attorneys can have gain a lot more information than they would without them.
Everyone Has A Positive Outlook
After the trial experience the employees at the courthouse are certainly impressed: “If ours is half as good as Molly it’s going to be a great dog and it’s going to be a tool that will really help us get the truth out in cases”, said Ray Robertson, the Commonwealth Attorney of the city.
The Victim-Witness program director in Staunton, Janet Balser, is also optimistic on the results these new initiatives will have as according to her “it’s a great way to get the information out of the victim, putting them at a minimal stress level and most beneficial for the prosecutor.”