Legal proceedings are usually stressful and a person requires emotional support while going through them. Some people have a smart attitude to counter stresses whereas many other just fail to bear the pressure. It plays an important role how well and clearly the accusers, witnesses, defendants describe their situations. There are several cases when the over-pressure poses a problem to the defendant in presenting themselves. A solution to such circumstances has been discovered by Ellen O’Neill Stephens and Celeste Walsen from Courthouse Dogs Foundation who believe that the presence of dogs in the courtroom can help the witnesses relax.
In the words of Ellen O’Neill, “When a person is reliving a traumatic event, they experience physiological reactions similar to what they had when the event was taking place. This adversarial system (of testifying in front of your attacker) is brutal. A lot of people come out damaged by it."
Courthouse Dogs Foundation aims to promote justice with compassion using professionally trained facility dogs as the medium to provide emotional support to everyone in the justice system. The dogs are made to undergo a training session of about two years in which they are acquainted to several emotional challenges that commonly arise in a courtroom and are also taught the ways to deal with them.
Currently spread across 28 states giving an employment to about 87 dogs, Courthouse Dogs was founded in 2004.