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Franklin Co. courthouse gets bench for crime victims, 'GO TEAM Therapy Dogs'

GO TEAM Therapy Dogs

FRANKLIN COUNTY, Wash. - A place to feel closer to a furry friend, whose goal is to provide comfort to crime victims.

The Franklin County Prosecutor's Office recently received a monetary donation to purchase a bench for their conference room. Attorneys will interview crime victims there and discuss their case -- many of them being children. To provide comfort, dogs from 'GO TEAM Therapy Dogs' will come in and sit with the victim.

"We wanted to have the dog at their level and so having a chair doesn't quite work for putting a dog in a chair," said Shawn Sant, Franklin County prosecutor. "So the bench would allow primarily the kids or even the adults -- you can see the bench is large enough for me and the dog both to be on here."

The therapy dogs have been coming to the prosecutor's office since April after the Franklin County Board of Commissioners approved the use of the dogs in the courthouse.

Since the approval, they've helped nearly 10 victims during probably one of the most difficult times of their life.

"They can sit on the bench together. That way it's at eye-level, it's more at the kids' level. Gives them comfort," Sant explained. "They can actually without bending over to pet the dog on the floor -- they can just actually have their hand out here and kind of be petting the animal, the dogs as they're being interviewed."

In addition to the bench, the team created a binder with a photo of all the dogs. It allows crime victims to look at the dogs and read their biography. From there, they can choose what canine they would like with them during their interview with an attorney. 

Currently, the dogs are only allowed in the conference room with the victim. In order for them to be in the courtroom during a trial, the dog must have a specific certification.

Sant said there are many rules to having a dog in a courtroom. He has talked to a Thurston County prosecutor about the idea since they're currently able to do this in their jurisdiction. The Franklin County Prosecutor's Office hopes to offer this to victims in the future.


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