Our Dogs Calm Children

SO THEY CAN ARTICULATE THEIR CIRCUMSTANCES TO THE JUDGE

The children receive non-judgmental acceptance and love from the dogs that seems to immediately alleviate apprehensions that may prevent the child from being a part of their hearing where their involvement is desperately needed. The value of the courthouse dogs is priceless.
— The Honorable Robert J. Mellon, Bucks County Dependency Court

Program Descriptions

DEPENDENCY COURT PROGRAM

Judge Mellon believes in the Roxy Courthouse Therapy Dogs program so much that he had a Roxy Puppy included in his official portrait. 

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

 A little girl waits to appear in court with her new friend, Roxy therapy dog Emma.

A little girl waits to appear in court with her new friend, Roxy therapy dog Emma.

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

Location

Bucks County Courthouse, Doylestown, PA

Director

Melissa D’Amato, Director of Courthouse Companionship Program

I accompanied a terrified little girl into court to testify. I told her my dog liked to be hugged and she immediately wrapped herself around him. That gesture gave her the courage to speak up. It doesn’t get any better than that.
— Volunteer

This video, produced by the Pennsylvania Courts, explains the benefits of having comfort dogs in the courtroom for children and families. Watch for our Roxy dogs in the orange vests! 

Do You Know About Roxy Puppies?

RoxyPuppy600.jpg

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.

 At the courthouse, a little boy pats Roxy therapy dog Emma with one hand and holds a fistful of Roxy Puppies with the other.

At the courthouse, a little boy pats Roxy therapy dog Emma with one hand and holds a fistful of Roxy Puppies with the other.

 

Learn About Our Other Programs

Elementary School Reading Inspiration

Specialized Student Support

Secondary School Stress Relief

Pediatric Comfort

Meet Our Roxy Dogs