Friday, February 24, 2012

Dogs in court...

Stafford County Courthouse’s new dog, Kahn was introduced by his handler, Juanita Maley, to the county’s Board of Supervisors on Feb. 21. The dog will work with children and adult victims of sexual assault, domestic violence, elder abuse and other violent crimes. (Mary Davidson/

Victims of crimes in Stafford County will soon receive emotional support and comfort from a four-legged addition to the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Victim-Witness Office. Kahn, a male black Labrador retriever, will join the Victim-Witness staff on Tuesday, February 21. The dog will work with children and adult victims of sexual assault, domestic violence, elder abuse and other violent crimes.

“Stafford’s court system has a deep respect and appreciation for the courage of the victims who come forward to work with our prosecutors,” said Chairman of the Board of Supervisors Susan Stimpson, Falmouth District. “Kahn will be a great help in making victims, especially children, more comfortable.”

Kahn will sit with victims and offer them comfort while they are being interviewed about what happened to them. Most victims, especially children, come into the office already traumatized. Having a dog there to pet relaxes people and helps them open up and give details to help bolster their case. The dog will not go into the courtroom but will be available for all aspects of pretrial preparation with victims.

“The goal of having a courthouse dog is two-fold,” said Commonwealth’s Attorney Eric Olsen, “We want the dog’s presence to make children and adults more comfortable so they can better tell their story. Plus, we hope it will help make a tough experience a little easier on those who’ve already had a hard time.”

After he was formally introduced to the Stafford County Board of Supervisors, Kahn (center dog) showed his playful side. Kahn and his handler, Juanita Maley, are part of the Victim Witness Assistance Program at the Stafford County Courthouse. (Mary Davidson/

Kahn and his handler, Juanita Maley of the Victim-Witness Assistance Office, recently completed training with the Courthouse Dog Program. The program trains handlers to work with dogs and victims in the criminal justice system. The dogs come from a group called Canine Companions for Independence, an organization that trains canine companions, service dogs and facility dogs like Kahn.

There was no cost for the dog. The training with the Courthouse Dog Program was $5,000 and was funded by assets forfeited by convicted criminals. The dog will work daily at the Courthouse and will live with its handler

Maley, who will provide for its upkeep. Canine Companions for Independence has a network of vets who provide services at reduced costs or for free for facility dogs.

-Press release

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