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Dogs in the criminal justice system: Consideration of facility and therapy dogs

By Elizabeth Spruin, Katarina Mozova

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It is known that the criminal justice process is most often perceived as a negative experience by victims, witnesses, as well as defendants. Whilst measures have been put into place across the globe to improve their experiences, there is still much more which needs to be done, especially as the process can involve secondary victimisation of those participating in it and prolonged trauma. The current opinion piece centres on the use of trained dogs to help the experiences of criminal justice system users during active cases. Whilst this practice is mostly used in North America, hints at bringing varying types of dogs into the criminal justice system are visible elsewhere, too. With the criminal justice users in mind, it is key to establish, from the offset, the positives of such service, but also be very aware of its limitations and challenges, in order for the service delivering what it aims without causing a disruption to the criminal justice process or its users. This piece provides a theoretical and practical analysis of topics surrounding the use of specially trained dogs to support criminal justice system users with the view of highlighting our lack of knowledge on the topic and practical challenges of this service.


Marcy Wilhelm-South

Purdue University

Date 2018
Publication Title Pet Behavior Science
Volume 5
Pages 12
DOI 10.21071/pbs.v0i5.10084
Language English
Additional Language English
Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  1. Animal roles
  2. Courts
  3. Criminal justice
  4. Dogs
  5. Facility Dogs
  6. Mammals
  7. open access
  8. Police
  9. therapy animals
  1. open access