Overcoming resistance to the program
The beginning of the process
Most people first encounter resistance to the idea of using a courthouse dog program when they first mention it to other office members. A courthouse has a tradition of decorum and the presence of a dog in that setting seems unnatural.
After that initial reaction, the notion of dealing with employee’s concerns about allergies, fear or dislike of dogs makes it easy to say no. Other issues that are raised are concerns about the cost or the level of commitment needed to making a program like this work.
Be prepared in advance to address these issues and present documentation of the success of this type of program in other jurisdictions.
After a courthouse dog program is established
The dog handler and team members may continue to encounter resistance from others about working with a dog.
When CCI facility dog Stilson was placed with victim advocate Heidi Potter, Special Assault Unit Deputy Prosecutors Mark Roe and Craig Mathieson were very resistant to the idea of Stilson participating in forensic interviews or accompanying a child to the stand.
Hear from them first hand their reaction to the notion-
However Stilson won them over as soon as they saw how well children and their families responded to him. Much to his astonishment, Mark Roe was soon in the courtroom trying to convince the judge to allow Stilson to accompany a child to the stand. Stilson sat beside Mark in the courtroom while he argued the motion and Stilson’s perfect demeanor impressed the judge so much that he granted the motion. Now Mark candidly admits he was “wrong about the dogs”.
Today Astro, a second facility dog, has joined Stilson in his work at the Dawson Place Child Advocacy Center. For more information about Stilson and Astro at Dawson Place see http://dawsonplace.org - Services Offered by the Special Investigation Unit.