Orange Courthouse will soon introduce a therapy dog program and is on the hunt for volunteer dog handlers to help provide comfort to court users.
Volunteer handlers will work with the Guide Dogs NSW/ACT Therapy Dogs to help provide support to potentially anxious or distressed people attending the courthouse.
Program coordinator Samantha O'Keefe said any interested community members could apply.
“We’re looking for volunteers who enjoy socialising with people, have a genuine love of dogs, good dog handling skills and an interest in animal assisted therapy,” she said.
“Guide Dogs NSW/ACT will provide ongoing training and support to all volunteer handlers."
The Canine Court Companion Program has been running at the Manly Courthouse in Sydney since July this year, and will roll out to 11 courts across Sydney and Regional NSW by mid 2019.
Volunteer Therapy Dog handlers must have the ability to attend information and training sessions with the Guide Dogs NSW/ACT team, the ability to safely transport a Labrador Therapy Dog and the ability to attend at least two court sessions per week with a Therapy Dog for 12 months.
The court sessions will involve visiting people in the courthouse foyers with the Therapy Dog, as well as entering safe rooms, which are often utilised by victims of domestic violence, when requested.
Guide Dogs NSW/ACT have asked female dog lovers who are considering applying to think about doing so on Tuesdays and Thursdays, as these are the days generally reserved for domestic violence and Apprehended Violence Order cases.
While not essential, the Guide Dogs organisers would like volunteers to host a specially selected Therapy Dog full time in their home.
The therapy dog court sessions will occur between 9– 10.30am on weekdays.
Email NaMoore@guidedogs.com.au to apply.
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