Many people in Central Bucks know about Roxy Reading’s programs in the classroom, but not enough have heard of our Minor Victims of Violent Crimes program. Roxy Reading teams in this division are specially trained and on-call for shifts in the District Attorney’s office. Roxy dogs are available to comfort and stand by minors who are involved in abuse cases and may actually have to testify. Very few courthouse pet therapy programs like this exist, and Roxy Reading is lucky to have such a spectacular group of volunteer teams to make this program as strong and important as it is.
According to an article on www.childandanimalaw.com, studies show that child witnesses who are accompanied by courthouse therapy dogs may be able to testify in court without fear. Holding a leash, petting a dog, or even speaking to the dog while testifying, relieves some of the intimidation of speaking in a courtroom. Therapy dog interactions can result in lower anxiety and better speech and memory. It is hard for a young person to face such a stressful and emotional event in front of strangers. Having a therapy dog by his or her side can help make a scary situation more bearable, and make the process less threatening for the child.
Having to go through the court system can make the trauma that the child has already endured even worse. An article on www.courtdog.org explains that this increased trauma can make it even harder for a child to testify, and particularly difficult to testify clearly and completely. Dogs are well known to be particularly sensitive to human emotions, and anyone who’s had a dog knows that they can relieve anxiety and increase positive feelings in us. For this reason, having a therapy dog comfort a child can serve both prosecution and defense; the child can be more comfortable testifying, and both sides can benefit from hearing the testimony directly from the child, and from knowing that they heard more than they would have if the child were overly frightened.
In addition to providing comfort through the presence of therapy dog teams, Roxy Reading also runs the Roxy Puppy program. Roxy Puppies are stuffed dogs that children can take home with them after spending time with a courthouse dog. The cuddly toy then serves as a reminder of the comfort they felt with the actual therapy dog, and something that they can carry with them throughout the case and proceedings.
Anyone who would like to make a contribution to our therapy dog program may do so here: http://greatergood.me/1LwMGrT. You can also learn more about our program or sponsor a “litter” of Roxy Puppies for the Courthouse Therapy Dogs Program on our website at http://www.roxyreading/donate . Every bit of help makes a difference!