If you’ve ever been to court – or even just been called for jury duty – you know that it takes time and energy, and it really can make a person nervous. The courthouse can provoke anxiety in even the steeliest person. Now imagine you’ve been the victim of a violent crime and have to testify against your attacker. Or you’re a child who has to answer questions from a police officer or detective. Fortunately, love and a non-judgmental presence are now in court to help–in the form of dogs like Ellie, court house dog extraordinaire!
Ellie, a lab, golden retriever mix, lounges in the King County Court House halls and loves to be petted by anyone passing by, but when she gets into the courtroom she’s all business. Ellie is a victim assistance dog and it’s her job to provide comfort to children and vulnerable crime victims going through the court process. She also provides love to just about anyone walking by her willing to reach down and give her a nuzzle.
Ellie is the first facility dog in the country to be formally placed at a prosecutor’s office. Much like service dogs for the blind, these amazing canines go through extensive training in order to fill a role that helps vulnerable children and adults. In the courtroom they help crime victims and children to feel calmer, stronger and more in control.
Here at DuBois Cary we are lucky enough to have met Ellie, who is so famous she’s been written up in USAToday, the New York Times and Bark Magazine! Ellie lives with DuBois Cary attorney Michelle Fontenot and her partner, deputy prosecuting attorney, Page Ulrey. Since we specialize in family law and estate planning, we are particularly pleased to know Ellie. And Ellie is the on the cutting edge of a movement that is gaining momentum.
The idea of using dogs to ease the tension of being in a courtroom is gaining popularity across the country. Courthousedogs.com began in Seattle and now the practice is spreading across the country to courts in Texas, California, Florida, Missouri and Michigan and many more. There are currently at least 34 court dogs working in more than 17 states.