Critters help us connect

My cousin Ed sent the graphic below. I don’t know the origin, but in a quick search I found it within a larger piece from a December 2013 post on a blog site named Going Forward that includes a touching story about a blue heeler puppy that adopted a new family.

Friar has made friends with two of Alabama’s court dogs, Willow and Fitz. They’re neither republican nor democratic, though one is a yellow dog. As a state, Alabama sometimes is among the least progressive, but it’s leading the pack with court dogs. I believe there are now eleven, with one more to come. Each dog covers a region of one or more (sometimes several) counties within the state.

Alabama’s district attorneys work with Canine Companions for Independence and several child advocacy groups. CCI places these “facility dogs” at no charge. When someone, such as a child, needs to provide a difficult or painful deposition or testimony before a jury, the court dog spends some with the child before the testimony to make sure he or she is comfortable with the dog. If all goes well, the dog is present with the child when he or she gives the testimony. The dog’s presence enables the child to speak with more confidence about a difficult subject.

If it’s a jury trial, the court dog is put beside the witness chair before the jury arrives and remains silent and unseen as the witness arrives and gives the testimony. The dog is present for the witness to touch or pet during the testimony. The critters bring comfort and a bit of healing. They help us connect when a tragic disconnect has occurred. Alabama’s court dogs are helping the state’s humans be more humane.

A Christmas card from Alabama’s Court Dogs

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