Tag Archives | service dogs

Inside the misunderstood world of psychiatric service dogs


Mike Sheffield via Hopes&Fears:

Service dogs for people with emotional disabilities and mental illnesses play a complex role in society and struggle for legitimacy. Hopes&Fears meets with the trainers of the canine companions most qualified to deal with the nuanced needs of people with PTSD and other “invisible” disabilities.

On an overcast Wednesday morning in Dobbs Ferry, New York, Lu and Dale Picard greet us at the door to the center for ECAD, or Educated Canines Assisting With Disabilities. The Picards founded the nonprofit organization in 1995 to train service dogs for people with different disabilities, from children with autism spectrum disorders to people with Parkinsons and Bipolar Disorder. Of the 300 dogs the Picards have bred, trained, and looked after, 40 have been for veterans suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. While service dogs for people with physical disabilities are readily incorporated into our society, service dogs for people with emotional disorders or, as Dale puts it “invisible disabilities,” like PTSD have yet to see the same acceptance.

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Dog Helps Teenage Rape Victim Testify Sparking Debate Over Use Of Canines In Courtrooms

776px-FEMA_-_20641_-_Photograph_by_Robert_Kaufmann_taken_on_12-20-2005_in_LouisianaShould dogs be allowed in courtrooms to comfort the victims? The New York Times reports:

Rosie, the first judicially approved courtroom dog in New York, was in the witness box here nuzzling a 15-year-old girl who was testifying that her father had raped and impregnated her. Rosie sat by the teenager’s feet. At particularly bad moments, she leaned in.

When the trial ended in June with the father’s conviction, the teenager “was most grateful to Rosie above all,” said David A. Crenshaw, a psychologist who works with the teenager.

“She just kept hugging Rosie,” he continued.

Now an appeal planned by the defense lawyers is placing Rosie at the heart of a legal debate that will test whether there will be more Rosies in courtrooms in New York and, possibly, other states.

Rosie is a golden retriever therapy dog who specializes in comforting people when they are under stress. Both prosecutors and defense lawyers have described her as adorable, though she has been known to slobber.

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