Therapy Dog Cleared for Courthouse Work
Prince George, B.C. – Don’t be surprised if you spot a fur friend at the Prince George courthouse.
The Therapy Dog program, operated by the Prince George RCMP Victim Services Section, will see ‘Max’, a seven year old Yellow Lab, available to accompany victims and witnesses to interviews as well as sit with them while they wait for their turn to testify.
(at right, Max sits and waits – photo submitted)
“Max has the perfect temperament for this kind of work” says Krista Levar, coordinator for the Prince George RCMP Victim Services Section. “He is calm and quiet, content to just sit by a person. I have been working with him on hand signals so I could offer some assistance from afar if need be.”
The Prince George courthouse is only the second courthouse in the Province to have approved this aspect of the Therapy Dog program.
“This is a wonderful step forward in appreciating victim’s needs and in providing victim support in a unique and creative way” says Levar, “Gathering the courage to attend court and to testify during a trial is a daunting task for anyone. If ‘Max’ can make that a bit easier then we have accomplished a wonderful thing.”
The Therapy Dog program through RCMP Victim Services, has been operating in Prince George for a year and a half. Levar says she will be heading to Vancouver for a special meeting with E Division to talk about policies and best practices for this kind of service.
Levar says young people seem to connect with the dogs, and those connections have led to some success stories “There are two that stick out in my mind. The first resulted in a disclosure of a crime from a child that would only talk to ‘Max’ about what had happened to him. The second was watching ‘Grimmus’ make a connection with a child in foster care who identified with Grimmus’ who was a foster dog.”
The dogs are personal pets, so there is no added cost to the detachment for their care.
The dogs also benefit the officers at the Prince George detachment. Max goes to the Victim Services office at the detachment most days and is just the fur friend some officers need to help reduce stress levels, “He just brightens up the day for everyone” says Levar.