How these 87 specially trained dogs are helping dig up the truth in courtrooms across the country
Everyone deserves to be heard, and these dogs are helping some witnesses find their voices.
In 2014, three young children were removed from their Ohio home after suffering unspeakable acts of abuse.
The kids were so traumatized, it took them months to even begin to open up to investigators about what had happened to them. When it came time to go to court, two of them had to testify from a separate room because facing their attackers was just too traumatic.
Sadly, this is all too common.
Research focusing on sexual abuse shows that testifying in court can actually amplify trauma for young victims, yet so many are forced to take the stand regardless.
This is a huge problem. The Sixth Amendment to the Constitution gives defendants the right to confront their accusers in court. And it’s a really, really tough thing to reconcile. In America, you’re innocent until proven guilty, and you deserve a fair shake in court.
But at what cost? How can we make sure our trials are fair and justice is served without putting victims through such an awful emotional ordeal?
Ellen O’Neill Stephens and Celeste Walsen think they have the answer: dogs in the courtroom to comfort witnesses.