Canine Therapy

Coconut Telegraph

Danielle Hughes of Sarasota’s Child Protection Center spoke to representatives from 48 states about P.A.W.S. at the 2015 Krimes Against Kids, a national conference held last week in Lake Buena Vista.  P.A.W.S. is a pet therapy program in which volunteer handlers have their dogs professionally trained to offer comfort to children who have been victims of abuse. The dogs are used to calm anxieties during group therapy and also in matters leading up to and during a trial. The P.A.W.S. program is getting a great deal of national attention since Florida is one of only a few states in the U.S. to have a statute allowing a child to have a therapy dog while they are in the witness stand during their testimony. Andrea McHugh of the State Attorney’s office stated, “Imagine you are a child talking about horrific things that have happened to you in front of a jury, a judge, a courtroom audience, lawyers, and even your perpetrator. Having a therapy dog with the child in the witness stand provides the child with a source of comfort and support, helping to reduce the chances of further traumatizing the child.” P.A.W.S. dogs are required to be certified through a recognized pet therapy program.  The volunteer handler undergoes extensive background checks and training.  Child Protection Center currently has nine active therapy dogs: Gary, Raven, Buck, Big Red, Dalen, Ruby, Sunny, Oliver, and Miss Fiona Marie.

Child Protection Center Inc

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