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Recent Cases on the Use of Facility Dogs by Witnesses while Testifying

By John Ensminger

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To make children and other vulnerable witnesses comfortable while testifying, courts are increasingly permitting them to be accompanied by specially trained dogs while on the witness stand. Some recent cases are analyzed here.

At present, the preferred term for such a dog is "facility dog," though cases and the literature on the subject have also called them testimony dogs, courthouse dogs, companion dogs, therapy dogs, service dogs, comfort dogs, therapy assistance dogs, and therapeutic comfort dogs. The latter three terms apply to broad categories of canine functions and might best be avoided because of connotations that might not apply to a dog used to facilitate a witness's testimony. (See Marianne Dellinger, Using Dogs for Emotional Support of Testifying Victims of Crime, 15 Animal L. 171 (2008), regarding the beginnings of the use of dogs during testimony.)


Megan Kendall

Purdue University

Date 2012
Publication Title Animal Legal and Historical Center
Publisher Michigan State University College of Law
Language English
Notes Originally published 2012; updated periodically, This article was found at the Animal Legal and Historical Center:
Additional Language English
Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  1. Animal roles
  2. Animals in culture
  3. Animal welfare
  4. Dogs
  5. Pets and companion animals
  6. Physical environment
  7. principles
  8. Service animals
  9. Social Environments