Pets

Canine Guardians Ad Litem Get Sworn In

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.

RELATED: Final Day at the Old Duval County Courthouse

"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.

New Blood Perks Up Florida Panther Population

USA Today - By the early 1990s there were only 20 to 25 Florida panthers left out of what was once a large and thriving population – and those that remained were sickly and inbred, destined for extinction within 20 years, experts estimated. So in 1995 conservation managers moved eight wild-caught female pumas from Texas to the area – a reintroduction so successful that between 1995 and 2008 a total of 424 panther births have been documented.