In a British Columbia courthouse legal history was made. Caber, a Delta Police Trauma K9, worked in a courtroom as a courthouse dog. His duty in that trial was to assist a child who was the victim of sexual assault to testify.
In order for Caber to be allowed to act as courthouse dog, Crown Lawyers had to request permission from the judge, the Delta Police media release stated.
“Presently, the Criminal Code allows witnesses under the age of 18 to have a ‘support person’ present, but prior to this ruling there was no provision for that ‘support person’ to be accompanied by an accredited courthouse dog.”
Winston Sayson, Surrey Crown Counsel and trial prosecutor was instrumental in the application to the judge to allow Caber, a 7-year-old Labrador Retriever, in the courtroom being successful. He said, “This judgment is an important acknowledgement by the court that the Criminal Justice System can continue to evolve and be innovative in accommodating children and vulnerable victims so their access to justice is enhanced. At this trial, Caber provided the unique kind of support that helped the child witness give a full and candid account of what of happened to her,” according to the Delta Police media release.
The yellow Lab has been with the Delta Police Victim Services unit since August 1, 2010. Labeled a Canine Assisted Intervention dog, Caber had his training with the Pacific Assistance Dogs Society and he no doubt played a vital role in this trial. He not only attended pre-trial interviews with the victim, but he also spent time supporting witnesses who were preparing to testify. In court his presence made all the difference.
“During his appearance in court Caber provided an invaluable service that allowed the witness to get through her highly traumatic and emotional testimony. While testifying, the child bent down several times to pet Caber which appeared to refocus and calm her,” Kim Gramlich, Victim Services Coordinator and Caber’s handler, said in a statement released by Delta Police.
It’s possible the victim may not have gotten through such an emotional experience without Caber.
Has a dog ever provided you with emotional support during a difficult situation?