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Courthouse dogs help children through trauma

February 19, 2014 • Local News

Molly B. came to Roswell to visit with employees at the Chaves County Courthouse on Jan. 14. She stayed to assist with stressed students and parents after the Berrendo Middle School shooting. (Courtesy Photo)

Several dogs became stars during the Berrendo Middle School crisis.

Black Lab Molly B. came down with her handler to introduce officials at Chaves County 5th District Court to courthouse dogs, but ended up some place quite different as events began to unfold on Jan. 14.

Molly B. was assisted by Emma, the much-beloved CASA dog, Roswell resident and dog about town, who often comes into the courts to calm victims or the family members of victims.

Ellen O’Neill-Stephens, founder of Courthouse Dogs Foundation, states that there is a difference between courthouse dogs, or courthouse-facility dogs, and therapy dogs.

She commented on the gentleman who drove his therapy dogs from California to help at Berrendo. She acknowledged his disappointment when he was denied entrance into the school, but said that in a high security situation, only a courthouse dog would do.

The courthouse dog’s handler has to be a working professional in the criminal justice field, such as a victim advocate, a detective, a forensic interviewer, a prosecutor or an assistant prosecutor.

O’Neill-Stephens served as a deputy prosecuting attorney in Seattle, Wash., for Login to read more

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