What a marvelous way to incorporate dogs in assisting people who need their love and acceptance!
It occured to me as I was reading this article that this sort of positive exposure to dogs for many young people who don’t usually get to interact positively with dogs could prevent their future abuse of dogs. Instead of seeing dogs as the object of abuse and perhaps harm to themselves, these young people can see dogs as respected members of society.
Thanks to The Seattle Times for this article.
Dedicated service dogs recognized at courthouse function
By Christine Clarridge
Seattle Times staff reporter
Among the distinguished guests at the King County Superior Courthouse Thursday was one with a special gift for encouraging frightened witnesses to testify in court.
There was another who’s helped hundreds of hospital patients recover. And another who’s responsible for sniffing out more than $23 million in illegal drugs.
The 18 honorees were dogs used for a variety of tasks in the region’s law-enforcement and social-welfare systems. The gathering, dubbed the “First Annual Pawtograph Party,” was a chance for the dogs who work with the Police Department, prosecutor’s office and hospitals to meet one another, show off a little and call attention to a once-radical idea that’s gaining acceptance.
It was also a chance to pay tribute to the late King County Prosecuting Attorney Norm Maleng, who was the first in the nation to approve the use of service dogs in a prosecutor’s office.
Snohomish County quickly followed the lead, and now dozens of prosecutors’ offices across the country look to King County as a model. Maleng’s widow, Judy Maleng, said the pilot program was one of which her husband was very proud.
“He was always asking, ‘What more can we do to help crime victims?’ ” she said of her husband, who died unexpectedly May 24 after 28 years as prosecuting attorney.
The dogs’ duties include attending drug-court graduation ceremonies and providing comfort to young victims.
“They’re all about unconditional love and acceptance,” said Ellen O’Neill-Stephens, a deputy prosecutor who sparked the program when she began bringing her son’s service dog, Jeeter, to the Juvenile Detention Center and the Drug Court, where she was working.
Jeeter was such a natural at befriending the young and the troubled that word of his abilities spread, and prosecutors began asking if he could sit in on interviews with frightened or reluctant young witnesses.