Service dogs bring comfort to people under stress. There are few situations more stressful than testifying in court, especially if you’re a child and a victim of a violent crime.
In Indiana, the Johnson County Prosecutor’s Office saw the connection and hired Nanook, a labradoodle, to make testifying easier.
Molestation Case Success
A savage molestation case showed Brad Cooper, the county prosecutor, how effective a service dog could be. Victims were reluctant to talk to the team of prosecutors, let alone testify.
If they didn’t speak up in court, there was no way to get a conviction. But the staff in the office understood. After the abuse and molestation, the victims had simply closed down.
Enter the service dog, brought in on a temporary basis to help with this specific case. The children involved relaxed, even laughed, when the dog joined the team. He helped defuse their fears and made communication easier.
Prosecutor Cooper said the dog provided the comfort and safety that let victims testify, leading to a 45-year-sentence for the perpetrator. In fact, “I kid you not, that animal is the sole reason that case went to trial.”
A Service Dog of Their Own
The team was impressed, and eventually sought a grant to cover part of the cost for a full-time service dog. The price of a trained dog from the Indiana Canine Assistance Network is $1,000. Cooper was so convinced of the need that he paid half that amount himself.
Nanook has already proved his usefulness in a case involving an elderly robbery victim. He stayed with him throughout the stress of giving videotaped testimony.
In the future, Cooper sees most of Nanook’s time working at the child advocacy center, which also has offices close to the prosecutor’s work area. When police or members of the Department of Child services need to interview a youngster, Nanook will be there, providing comfort.
Nanook received his initial training at the Indiana Woman’s Prison. His handler, a deputy prosecutor, spent two weeks learning how to work with the dog.
In the near future, the dog will go for additional training for working with children. Lasting six to eight months, the instruction will let Nanook refine his skills while he adjusts to his new job.
Right now, personnel bring in their children so the dog can practice his skills. Walking Nanook during the day at the office is so popular that there’s a waiting list. His living expenses, like veterinary visits and food, will be paid from the prosecutor’s budget.
Nanook started out as a guide dog for a blind owner. But it turned out his handler had allergies that made it impossible for him to continue with Nanook. Instructors saw in the dog’s calmness and gentle demeanor the makings of the perfect service dog, so Nanook headed back to school. Once he finishes his advanced training, he will work daily with victims at the child advocacy center.
The Importance of Service Dogs
Dogs like Nanook can provide essential help for children, seniors, and anyone who has experienced trauma. For people under major stress and with physical challenges, they make a functional life possible. That’s why so many are companions for vets with PTSD.
Interested to learn more? You can get a free ebook, The Complete Guide to Service Dogs & Emotional Support Animals, at USA Service Dog Registration. The book, a $19.99 value, offers tips for flying, housing and using public places with these dogs.
You can register your service dog at USA Service Dog Registration. It takes just three easy steps, and it’s free!
The site has numerous resources, including information about where service dogs are allowed, a look at individual state laws, and airline requirements.
There is also a Service Dog Store on the website, offering a wide range of useful items. If you need dog vests, patches, collars, leashes and ID tags, the store offers a large assortment at affordable prices.
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