“Dog therapy” rolled out across Family Courts

“Dog therapy” is being trialled across Family Courts in Cornwall in a bid to calm witnesses before they take the stand.

Family Judge Simon Carr said the results have been “miraculous”.

It is generally accepted that holding and stroking a pet is calming for many people, even for those without anxiety problems.

The court believes that by letting witnesses and alleged victims interact with the dogs before giving evidence, they will be less nervous or afraid to retell their recollection of events.

Judge Carr said: “The experience of what we’ve done so far is that it has made it much easier for them to give evidence, they are much more relaxed, much more centred, and much less stressed.

“Anything that achieves that has got to be an advantage.

“I’ve asked if I can be on the cycle each day so I can have a bit of stress relief along with everybody else.”

The dogs, a miniature schnauzer, a Labrador cross and a retriever are called into action three times a week.

Last month, the dogs comforted a young man who was an alleged victim of sexual assault.

Family Judge Nick Vincent added: “He was in quite an upset state and I had some doubt about whether he would be able to tell his story, but the introduction of a therapy dog into the room with him before he told his story had a miraculous effect.

“He calmed down immediately and was able to give a very full account of what he said had happened to him.”

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Alison Green
Alison joined Mackrell Turner Garrett in 1989 and qualified as a solicitor in 1991, becoming a partner in the firm in 2010. Her expertise covers matrimonial work, including divorce and the associated financial and children issues; pre and post-nuptial agreements; co-habitation disputes; civil partnership agreements and the breakdown of civil partnerships.