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April 9, 2014

Courthouse Dogs program coming to Fauquier County

VIDEO: Click above to watch WUSA-TV 9 report.
These facility dogs humanize the justice system by providing unconditional emotional support during stressful legal proceedings, and specialize in assisting individuals as they describe what they experienced while they undergo forensic interviews or testify in court.
— Commonwealth’s Attorney James P. Fisher
A specially trained service dog soon will go to work in Fauquier County courts.

Courthouse Dog Foundation representatives came to Warrenton this week to explain the program, which helps crime victims and witnesses cope with the stress of court testimony. Courthouse Dog also conducted a Tuesday-afternoon training session for the program.

Commonwealth’s Attorney James P. Fisher recently won approval for a courthouse dog.

St. Francis Service Dogs of Roanoke will train one of its canines for Fauquier. The organization also will train a member of the county victims assistance program as the handler.

"The dog accompanies a witness and helps the witness be calm and collected enough to tell their side of the story," Courthouse Dogs representative Celeste Walsen told WUSA-TV 9 reporter Peggy Fox, who covered the event.

Established in 2003, the non-profit Courthouse Dogs Foundation provides education and training to justice professionals. The organization helps prosecutors and law enforcement agencies throughout the country establish courthouse dog programs.

“These facility dogs humanize the justice system by providing unconditional emotional support during stressful legal proceedings, and specialize in assisting individuals as they describe what they experienced while they undergo forensic interviews or testify in court,” said Mr. Fisher, who hosted representatives of the program Tuesday during his second annual observance of National Crime Victim’s Rights Week.

As part of their training, the dogs learn to remain quiet and motionless for as long as three hours.

In each case, the judge may decide whether the dog can appear in court.
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vanative · April 11, 2014 at 2:31 pm
Very nice idea...
Visiting10165MD · April 9, 2014 at 2:41 pm
I am currently in Rockville, MD and we have many individuals who
use service dogs to walk around the city of Rockville, and they
are very well trained. Because I love animals, and I grew up with
a German Shepherd, I have a respect for the "dog" and "the owner",
equally. I have talked with many people here in Rockville, as they
are walking their dogs, both service dogs and regular pets.
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