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Posted on: May 8, 2018

Therapy Dog Program

The Third Judicial Court is proud to announce the implementation of a Court Therapy Dog Program. The Court is the first in the State of Kansas to implement this type of therapeutic program and joins 32 other States nationwide.

Since the 1980's, Courts have shifted their focus from simple case processing towards more therapeutic approaches in order to address increasing specialized caseloads. For example, Drug Court, Mental Health Court & Veteran's Court are considered to be standard case management tracks in many courts. All are very worthwhile and target offenders who are in need of special help. The Therapy Dog program is also noteworthy because it is designed to help victims and witnesses who may be adversely affected by the case they are involved in.

The goal of the Court K9 Program is to provide a certified therapy dog to victims of violent crime, sexual assault, persons with diminished mental capacity or emotionally challenged. Therapy dog teams working in the judicial system can provide a sense of calm, security and non-judgmental support during investigative and legal proceedings.

The judicial process can be scary, stressful and traumatic. The use of therapy dogs can help bring about a major change in how we meet the emotional needs of all involved in the criminal justice system. The dog’s calming presence creates a more humane and efficient system that enables judges, lawyers, and staff to accomplish their work in a more positive and constructive manner.

A therapy dog is specially trained to offer comfort, companionship, and affection to those in need of a friendly presence. They differ from service dogs which provide their disabled partners more independence and self-sufficiency.

The Court has partnered with local therapy dog teams who are nationally certified and accredited through their respective organizations. These teams currently provide local service and have provided invaluable assistance during recent disasters in Connecticut, Las Vegas and Florida.

For more information, please contact Charles Hydovitz, District Court Administrator in Topeka, Kansas.
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