COURTHOUSE Dogs to be used in court proceedings in Spain’s Madrid.
With the aim to provide support when victims or witnesses are interviewed or have to testify, the use of specially trained dogs, sometimes dubbed “courthouse facility dogs,”—often used in courts throughout the United States—are going to start helping out in the courtrooms of Spain’s Capital.
The programme, launched under the name ‘Dogtor Animal’s Courthouse Dogs Research project’ and which recently won the BetterWithpets Prize from Purina, aims to strengthen the bond between dogs and people in court proceedings.
Research has shown that, especially in the case of child abuse victims who often feel frightened and intimidated when testifying about their experience in a courtroom, the use of a properly trained cainine can aid in calming the victim and eases the process.
According to Vanessa Carral, the co-director of Dogtor Animal, the experience of being involved in a judicial process can be stressful for anyone.
“Imagine a child who has gone through a very traumatic experience and then has to go over it in detail, often interviewed by people he or she does not know. It can be very difficult for them,” Carral said
“A canine lying quietly in the witness box, offers a supportive presence that helps victims and witnesses compose themselves and tell a jury what happened.” she added.
The service is aimed at helping children to perceive going to court in a positive way and even reduces the anxiety that appears days before starting the process. It also creates a positive memory of the process and helps to alleviate loneliness and acts as an emotional cushion during court interviews.
Dogtor Animal’s Courthouse Dogs is a pioneering service in Spain, currently being developed in the courts of Madrid.
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