Boulder may become the first judicial district in the state of Colorado to get a courthouse dog to comfort victims and witnesses during trials. The District Attorney’s Office is considering adding a comfort dog after hearing about their use at a National District Attorney’s Association meeting.
The Courthouse Dogs Foundation, a non-profit in Washington, works with courthouses to place dogs in courtrooms that are highly-trained and help witnesses and victims through the trial process. Dogs in courthouse environments have been especially helpful in comforting the younger witnesses and victims.
Courthouse Dogs has placed 41 dogs in various courthouse and law enforcement agencies throughout the United States. The dogs are chosen from various service dog schools and look for dogs that will make appropriate courthouse dogs.
“We look for talents suitable to this line of work. They’re very quiet dogs, they can be in a courtroom for a couple of hours and lie there and not be disruptive,” said Courthouse Dogs founder Ellen O’Neill Stephens.
Boulder District Attorney Stan Garnett first heard about the non-profit and the idea of using dogs in the courthouse at the National District Attorney’s Association meeting. He has since been researching the idea and has formed a committee. The committee is composed of members of his staff, they will look into applying for a dog and figuring out the logistics of using the dog in the courthouse.
“Would it be in the court with the witnesses, in the office with the witnesses or just in the office to calm people throughout it?” said committee member, Deputy District Attorney Katie Allison.
When the dog was not on duty at the courthouse it would be cared for by selected members of the courthouse staff.
“We have a great staff that is great with animals and I have no doubt we can make it work,” said Garnett.
For more information on the non-profit Courthouse Dogs visit their website.