COURT THERAPY HOUNDS FETCHED BACK TO DUTY
After a precautionary “paws” due to COVID-19, the loveable Labradors of the Canine Court Companion Program (CCCP) are back working in courthouses across metropolitan and regional NSW.
Attorney General Mark Speakman said the affectionate pooches bring comfort to court users who are often experiencing some of the worst days of their lives.
“These friendly Labradors have been hounding their volunteer handlers to get back to work and make a difference in their communities once again,” Mr Speakman said.
“Their wagging tails, furry faces and wet noses help to ease anxiety and bring smiles to the faces of children, vulnerable witnesses and victims of crime.
“They are now back at Manly, Burwood, Campbelltown, Sutherland, Gosford, Goulburn, Nowra, Wagga Wagga and Orange ready to support anyone having a ‘ruff’ time’.
“I am pleased these fabulous dogs are back on duty, helping court users feel more relaxed in what can be a very stressful environment.”
The ‘lab tested’ program will return as soon as possible to Lismore when the courthouse reopens after being damaged in the recent floods.
The CCCP is funded by the NSW Government, with each helpful hound receiving up to two years of intensive training with Guide Dogs NSW/ACT.
Guide Dogs NSW/ACT CEO Dale Cleaver said companion animals have been proven to ease symptoms associated with trauma, including stress and anxiety.
“Having a beautiful dog around for a pat and a chat can calm people who are feeling nervous about coming to court, particularly young children,” Mr Cleaver said.
“We’re thrilled that our Therapy Dog teams are back at work in courthouses across the state, bringing comfort and companionship to court users.”
Therapy Dog teams attend nominated courthouses up to four days each week.
They offer support in publicly accessible areas of the courthouse, and may also receive special requests from police or court professionals to assist with people who are especially anxious.
An evaluation of the program has shown that Therapy Dogs have a calming and uplifting effect on victims of crime, as well as court professionals and volunteers, support networks, and the family and friends of people attending court.