Our Dogs Calm Children
SO THEY CAN ARTICULATE THEIR CIRCUMSTANCES TO THE JUDGE
DEPENDENCY COURT PROGRAM
Upon learning that well-trained therapy dogs can be a benefit to stressed children, The Honorable Robert J. Mellon, Bucks County Dependency Court, invited Roxy™ Therapy Dogs to set up a pilot program for his courtroom. Today, 33 Roxy™ therapy teams visit Bucks County Dependency Court sessions for children who are victims of abuse or neglect.
Often, these children are removed from their homes with nothing more than the clothes on their backs and their next stop is testifying before a judge and recounting what their home situation is like. This is where Roxy Therapy Dogs comes in.
Our dogs offer stability and a sense of calm for these children when they appear before the judge and literally stand by their side in the courtroom. A calm child is much better able to articulate their circumstances which enables the judge to make a confident, informed decision regarding their situation moving forward. "Roxy Reading Therapy dogs and their owners are an elite group of citizens who provide an extraordinary service to our community," said Judge Mellon. "The mere presence of the dogs dramatically decreases anxiety in everyone involved in Dependency Court." He believes that having the dogs at the courthouse lightens everyone’s mood, even those who work there.
Judge Mellon’s pilot program which was Pennsylvania’s first, has given rise to additional therapy dogs programs operating in 80% of County Courthouses in Pennsylvania.
VICTIMS OF VIOLENT CRIME PROGRAM
Roxy Therapy Dogs also provide great comfort to children who have been victims of violent crimes. Sadly, their attacker is often someone they know, or even a family member, which makes their appearance in court even more stressful.
Our teams receive special training through NOVA (Network of Victims Assistance) so that they are uniquely certified to support these fragile children under extremely difficult circumstances. This program was put in place through a partnership between Roxy Therapy Dogs and the Bucks County District Attorneys office and it provides irreplaceable comfort for children navigating the judicial system. These specialized teams are on call if/when they are needed and work in one hour shifts in a “safe room” at the Bucks County Courthouse during trials, ensuring that children remain calm and, to an extent, distracted, while they wait for their turn to testify before the judge and jury.
Benefits to Children
- Lower blood pressure
- Slower, eased breathing
- Lower anxiety
- Sense of companionship or not being alone
- Better able to focus
Bucks County Courthouse, Doylestown, PA
Melissa D’Amato, Director of Courthouse Companionship Program
Do You Know About Roxy Puppies?
Roxy Puppies are an important part of our Courthouse Therapy Dogs Program. These little stuffed dogs are a take-home reminder of the comfort experienced by the children when they met a therapy dog in the courthouse. For some children, this will be their only personal possession as they proceed through housing placements.