Yamhill County getting courthouse dog

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Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Yamhill County's district attorney is on the waitlist to get a courthouse dog to help calm witnesses and crime victims in the courtroom.

Courthouse dogs are bred and trained by Canine Companions for Independence, a nonprofit organization in Santa Rosa, Calif. In 18 months of training, the dogs learn more than 50 commands and are trained to help disabled individuals. After training, dogs are paired with a handler and, together, they are run through a second, two-week-long training regimen. At that point the dogs are worth more than $25,000, but there is no charge to the district attorney’s office. Once in a courtroom, a dog from CCI will sit beside a victim or witness, providing a calm and attentive presence in a stressful situation.

“It takes just a few minutes of observing one of these amazing dogs with a victim to understand what an extraordinary benefit it is,” Berry said. “Watching as the dog lays its head on a child’s lap — the child almost unconsciously stroking it — while talking about difficult topics, leaves no doubt as to the soothing effect this can have.”

Read more at the Portland Tribune.

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