Facility Dog Works at District Attorney's Office in New YorkPublished May 31, 2012
Courtesy of the Staten Island District Attorney's Office
According to the Wall Street Journal, the district attorney's office in Staten Island is attempting to capitalize on the comforting powers that pets, and in particular facility animals, have. And that's exactly why they've brought on a canine member to their team, a facility dog appropriately named Bronksey. Bronksey is a two-year-old Labrador/ Golden Retriever mix trained as a full-time victim's advocate; he completed his training under the non-profit Canine Companions for Independence, which provides training for facility dogs.
The report says that Bronksey will be used to comfort the victims of crimes as they interview with prosecutors looking to try their case. It goes without saying that being the victim of a crime can be an incredibly traumatic experience. Prosecutors hope that keeping Bronksey around will alleviate some of the inflicted trauma, and help victims put together their story to build cases to the best of their ability.
Eventually, prosecutors hope that they'll be able to have Bronksey accompany their witnesses when they take the stand to help them maintain their composure. He would remain out of sight of the jurors, of course.
The Staten Island district attorney's attempt to eventually have a facility dog in the courtroom is similar to a previous pilot program that launched in Bucks County, PA. According to a previous Petside report, the pilot program allowed therapy dogs to be present in the courtroom to calm children down as they entered family court. The Staten Island district attorney's office must realize that the courtroom experience can be traumatic for anyone, children or otherwise. Having Bronksey in the courtroom with adults would build upon the Bucks County efforts, and be groundbreaking overall.
What do you think about Bronksey and the Staten Island district attorney's office use of a facility dog? Share your thoughts in a comment.