From detecting bombs, cancer and even COVID-19, there’s no end to how dogs help humanity.
Testifying in court can be scary for victims, especially the young ones. In countries where defendants have the right to confront their accusers, victims often struggle under pressure. That’s where courthouse dogs come in to make everyone feel slightly better.
Recently, a trained six-year-old Golden Retriever made a rare appearance to help a victim overcome testifying in an eastern Japan court, according to Japan Today. The doggo accompanied a teen girl for some 90 minutes while she was cross-examined during the trial of a man who was accused of abusing her.
While courthouse dogs are common in the United States, Yokohama-based group Tsunagg believes this is the first-ever case in which a dog has appeared in court in Japan. So far, there are only four official courthouse dogs.
The victim initially refused to testify until the court allowed the dog to accompany her. She said, “It was nice (the dog) was there”.
Permission for the dog to take the stand with the girl came after the court was presented documents that proved the girl had a mental condition and a statement from her doctor, warning that her post-traumatic stress disorder could deteriorate if she appeared in court without the support dog.
Mariko Yamamoto, a lecturer at the Teikyo University of Science and a member of Tsunagg said, “Children who have become unable to trust others as a result of abuse can still trust courthouse dogs that just stay close to them and feel secure, as they help reduce their mental burdens… We hope (the government) will institutionalize their attendance”.
The group is now urging the Japanese government to help their initiative to train more courthouse dogs amid a growing number of child abuse cases over there.