JACKSONVILLE, Fla -- On its last day open, the Duval County Courthouse went to the dogs.
Four dogs were sworn in during juvenile court as canine guardians ad litem. The program allows abused, abandoned or neglected children to connect with therapy dogs and even bring the dogs into the courtroom while they testify.
"If they have to look out to the courtroom and see somebody that has hurt them in the past and the dog is in front of them, there is a barrier. The dog will protect the child even if no one else will, so they are more apt to be honest and forthcoming if the dog is with them," said Chris Whitney, a pet therapy trainer.
The dogs go through a thorough temperament test and are evaluated before they become part of the program.