Canine Advocacy Programs are becoming more and more popular with police and prosecutors in Michigan. These “dog advocates” are providing a valuable service in giving emotional support to young crime victims.
Oakland County’s “unofficial” court mascot is a 2.5 year old chocolate lab named Amos. Whenever Amos visits the Oakland County Circuit Court he is greeted like a rock star. When Amos is not at the courthouse he is working with sexually abused young adults and teens at Oakland County’s Children’s Village. One teen stated that “[Amos] really helps out and makes it more comfortable to talk about what happened to us and the problems that are going on in life.”
CAP started in 2010, when Leader Dogs for the Blind donated Amos to the program. Dan Cojanu (the founder of the program) credits Judge Brian W. MacKenzie for being instrumental in getting the CAP started and noticed by other judges.
The dogs bring down the anxiety level while the children are waiting to go into court. They play with the dogs and it provides something else for the children to focus on besides the fear of testifying. The great thing about this program is that dogs are intuitive and know just when a nuzzle is necessary.
The use of dog advocates has expanded to include Eaton, Ottawa, Bay, Ionia and Shiawassee counties. The dogs are also being used in the new Veterans Courts. The dogs help military veterans deal with post traumatic stress and other mental health issues.
CAP is a program that is deserving of support. Please check out its website at www.capmich.com