A Canadian police dog helped comfort a child sexual abuse victim during her testimony in the first instance of its kind in the country.
Caber, a seven-year-old yellow Labrador assigned to British Columbia’s Delta Police Trauma unit, was allowed into the courtroom to comfort the girl, who reportedly held tightly to his leash throughout the testimony.
“While testifying, the child bent down several times to pet Caber, which appeared to refocus and calm her,” Caber’s handler Kim Gramlich told reporters.
On occasion the child, who has not been named in order to protect her identify, lay down next to the yellow labrador and cuddled him.
Ms Gramlich added that Caber “allowed the witness to get through her highly traumatic and emotional testimony.”
Previously, victims under 18 years old testifying have been allowed “support persons” in the courtroom, but it is believed this is the first such instance of a dog helping a child victim.
Surrey Crown Counsel Winston Sayson, who submitted the application to allow Caber into the courtroom, noted that he “provided the unique kind of support that helped the child witness give a full and candid account of what happened to her”.
Caber, who was trained by a specialist organisation as a canine assisted intervention dog, has been with the police unit since 2010.
Dogs are also used in some courtrooms in the United States, where they provide similar comfort to children testifying against abuse and sexual violence.