Comforting The Youngest of Victims: VA Legal Pros Prepare to Bring Courthouse Dog on Staff

Molly, a specially trained courthouse dog, stopped by a Virginia courthouse this week as employees get ready to bring their own courthouse dog “on staff.”

NBC29 WVIR Charlottesville, VA News, Sports and Weather

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Molly the lab mix is an official courthouse dog. And on Monday she paid a visit to the city of Staunton, VA — because they’ll be getting their own courthouse pooch soon, too!

Her name is Molly B, a lab mix. The dog took a tour of the courtrooms Monday to prepare the city for their own courthouse dog.

“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,” Janet Balser, Staunton’s Victim-Witness program director, told NBC-29.

Courthouse dogs can assist crime victims, witnesses and others during stressful stages of legal proceedings.

“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,” said Ellen O’Neill-Stephens, the founder of Courthouse Dogs Foundation.

Special training makes dogs like Molly worth up to $50,000, but thanks to Canine for Companions for Independence, Staunton is getting their own dog for free.

“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’s Attorney for the city of Staunton. “They have such a calming effect, [the dogs give kids] confidence, they give them the ability to say what happened to them affected a lot of times adults can’t get that out of them but the dog can,” said Robertson.

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