Vulnerable Witnesses in Court: Marist to Host Conference on the use of Courthouse Facility Dogs
POUGHKEEPSIE (April 22, 2014) – Marist College on April 30 will host "Vulnerable Witnesses in Court: The Use of Courthouse Facility Dogs," a conference presented by the Courthouse Dogs Foundation and the Children’s Home of Poughkeepsie, which will focus on how courthouse dogs can enable terrified, intimidated, vulnerable witnesses and victims of violence to give effective testimony in court with the comfort of a specially trained dog.
The story of Rosie, who became the first dog in NY Court history to comfort a witness in a trial, will be told. The conference includes a demonstration with a Courthouse Dog and an update on the status of the proposed Rosie’s Law.
Since 2003, courthouse dogs have provided comfort to sexually abused children while they undergo forensic interviews and testify in court. These dogs also assist treatment court participants in their recovery, visit juveniles in detention facilities, greet jurors and lift the spirits of courthouse staff who often conduct their business in adversarial setting. Courthouse dogs specialize in assisting individuals with physical, psychological, or emotional trauma due to criminal conduct.
These facility dogs should be graduates from assistance dog organizations that are accredited members of Assistance Dogs International to ensure that they do not create a public danger and are stable, well-behaved, and unobtrusive to the public. Courthouse facility dogs are handled by criminal justice professionals, such as a deputy prosecutor, a law enforcement officer, a victim advocate, or a forensic interviewer. The use of courthouse dogs can help bring about a major change in how we meet the emotional needs of all involved in the criminal justice system. Their calming presence promotes justice with compassion.
About the Courthouse Dogs Foundation
The mission of Courthouse Dogs Foundation is to promote justice with compassion through the use of professionally trained facility dogs to provide emotional support to everyone in the justice system. We envision a world where there is a dog in every courthouse providing emotional support to everyone in need during stressful legal proceedings.
As an independent nonprofit organization, we strive to accomplish our mission by:
- Educating members of the public and legal professionals about the benefits of courthouse dogs
- Guiding governmental agencies (prosecutor offices and law enforcement agencies) and nonprofit organizations (child advocacy centers and victim advocacy groups) in program development using a best practices model
- Supporting nonprofit service dog organizations that train and place courthouse dogs
- Encouraging and facilitating scientific research on the use of courthouse dogs
Established in 1847, the Children's Home provides a range of services and programs giving hope and healing to abused and neglected children in the Hudson River Region. The Children's Home served 397 children and their family members last year. The Home provides a full range of residential services including campus-based care, community-based group homes and boarding homes, and independent living apartments. It also provides regular foster care and intensive therapeutic foster homes.
Throughout thier 167 year history, the underlying mission of the Children’s Home of Poughkeepsie has remained the same: The Home is dedicated to providing a safe and nurturing environment that improves lives and empowers at-risk children and families in the Hudson Valley and surrounding communities.
This conference is generously sponsored by Schlossberg Family Fund of the Community Foundations of the Hudson Valley, Children’s Home of Poughkeepsie, Center for the Prevention of Child Abuse, Family Services, Grace Smith House, and Marist College.