Promoting Justice with Compassion

Courthouse Dogs Foundation

Expert education and guidance for legal professionals

Courthouse Dog at work
Molly B at the King County Courthouse. Molly B was bred and trained by Canine Companions for Independence. Photo courtesy Seattle Police Department.

Educational Outreach

Ohio Judicial Conference
Annual Educational Meeting
August 28 - 29, 2014
Columbus, OH

ADI Trainers Conference
and Assistance Dogs
International Conference
September 15 - 19, 2014
Denver, CO

NALS of Washington
Fall Education Conference
September 20, 2014
Centralia, WA

2014 International
Courthouse Dogs
October 27- 28, 2014
Seattle, WA

Register now

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Since 2003 courthouse dogs have provided comfort to sexually abused children while they undergo forensic interviews and testify in court. These dogs also assist treatment court participants in their recovery, visit juveniles in detention facilities, greet jurors and lift the spirits of courthouse staff who often conduct their business in an adversarial setting.

Courthouse dogs specialize in assisting individuals with physical, psychological, or emotional trauma due to criminal conduct.  These facility dogs should be graduates from assistance dog organizations that are accredited members of Assistance Dogs International to ensure that they do not create a public danger and are stable, well-behaved, and unobtrusive to the public. Courthouse facility dogs are handled by criminal justice professionals, such as a deputy prosecutor, a law enforcement officer, a victim advocate, or a forensic interviewer.

The use of courthouse dogs can help bring about a major change in how we meet the emotional needs of all involved in the criminal justice system. Their calming presence promotes justice with compassion.


2014 International Courthouse Dogs Conference
Seattle, WA
October 27 - 28, 2014


National Crime Victim Law Institute

2014 Victims’ Rights Partnership Award: Courthouse Dogs Foundation

Executive Director Celeste Walsen, Founder Ellen O'Neill-Stephens, and courthosue dog Molly B, of Courthouse Dogs Foundation.
Celeste Walsen, Ellen O'Neill-Stephens, and
Molly B
Photo by the Seattle Police Department

NCVLI’s Victims’ Rights Partnership Award recognizes the collaborative efforts of individuals and/or organizations who have devoted their time to advancing crime victims’ rights.

The Courthouse Dogs Foundation is a non-profit staffed by retired senior deputy prosecuting attorney Ellen O’Neill-Stephens, veterinarian Celeste Walsen, and the lovely courthouse facility dog Molly B.  Together they promote justice with compassion by helping prosecutors, detectives, victim advocates, judges and legislators understand how facility dogs can provide a sense of well-being and security to vulnerable victims and witnesses during stressful legal proceedings.  Facility dogs are graduates from assistance dog organizations that are members of Assistance Dogs International and are handled by criminal justice professionals.  The Foundation also provides guidance to these legal professionals about how to obtain these expertly trained dogs to become working members of their offices.  This practice ensures that the dog and the handler will provide the best services to crime victims over a long working career together.  Through their tireless efforts, Ellen and Celeste have shared their innovative program and partnered with other professionals to protect victims. As a result there are now 67 courthouse facility dogs working in 25 states.

- National Crime Victim Law Institute