Merel, an 18 month old labrador, is helping to relieve the fears of children and teens testifying in court, either as witnesses or victims . The first of her kind in Ontario, Canada, Merel is a service dog with the Child Witness Program.
According to Rachel Crawford, the program coordinator, Merel plays a calming and supportive role. “…[S]he’s very gentle. She’s very loving…She’ll often sit right on the couch beside the child with her head on their lap or she’ll sit at their feet.” Crawford adds, “It’s sort of hard to know how I ever did my work without her. She helps build an instant rapport. “
Meanwhile, Pella, a labrador/golden retriever mix, is at work for the District Attorney’s Office in Arapaho County, CO . Like Merel, Pella soothes the fears of children too traumatized by what they have seen or experienced to talk.
As investigator Amber Urban explains, when Pella enters the room, “They [children] just want to talk about Pella and they interact with you because if Pella thinks you’re okay, then you must be okay.”
Pella, also, provides comfort to children in the courtroom. She is, however, trained to stay out of sight beneath the witness stand. Jurors remain unaware of Pella’s presence, so that it does not influence or distract them.
Altogether, Pella has been involved in 450 cases. It is tragic there should be so many cases in the world in which children were traumatized, let alone in a single state. But it is clear man’s best friend has found another way to be of service.
“Ask the animals, and they will teach you…For the life of every living thing is in His [God’s] hand, and the breath of every human being” (Job 12: 7 and 10).
 ABC News, “Service Dog Helps Kids Testify in Ontario Court” by Joie Marie McKenzie, 11/4/16, http://abcnews.go.com/Lifestyle/service-dog-kids-testify-ontario-court/story?id=43301875.
 CBS News, “Meet the dog who comforts children who testify in court”, 1/5/17, http://www.cbsnews.com/news/pella-colorado-courthouse-dog-for-traumatized-children-testifying-in-court/.