Labradors at court to help anxiety about pending appearances

READY TO HELP: Labradors will be found in the corridors of Orange Court House.
READY TO HELP: Labradors will be found in the corridors of Orange Court House.

THOSE facing the anxiety of court action will have an unusual friend to ease the experience.

Guide Dogs NSW is busy training dozens of labradors who will be the stars of the Canine Court Companion Program at Orange following a successful trial at Manly.

Attorney General Mark Speakman said the fab labs would patrol the courthouse, looking to help anyone who’s stressed and in need of “fur therapy”.

“The rollout of the Canine Court Companion Program follows a successful pilot program at Manly Courthouse involving Delta Society dogs,” he said.

“The Manly program received unanimous support, with anxious victims and witnesses feeling more relaxed and ready to give evidence after patting the helpful hounds.”

Guide Dogs NSW/ACT has been awarded the contract to expand the Canine Court Companion Program following a merit-based tender process and Mr Speakman thanked the Delta Society for pioneering the therapy. 

Dale Cleaver, CEO of Guide Dogs NSW/ACT said the organisation was excited to be working with the NSW Government on the program.

“We know that the presence of a dog can help calm people and lower anxiety, and it’s wonderful to see our dogs are already doing this at Manly Courthouse,” he said.

Guide Dogs NSW/ACT has more than 60 years experience as the leading provider of guide dogs and orientation and mobility services enabling people with sight loss to move around their communities independently.

The organisation also has a growing Pets As Therapy program, with dogs helping children and adults struggling with challenges beyond sight loss.

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