In 2010 the Delta Police Department enlisted Caber, the first Victim Services dog in Canada. Since then, the use of dogs in the Canadian justice system has grown. Caber is a fully trained Canine Assisted Intervention Dog, accredited through Assistance Dogs International (ADI). There are now six of these K-9 comforters working in police victim services programs or at child advocacy centres in Canada.
Delta Police began using the yellow Labrador retriever to calm and comfort victims and witnesses in traumatic circumstances. He has now provided support to hundreds of people in crises and throughout investigations. Because of his specialized training, Caber qualifies for public access to buildings like courthouses through the Guide Animal Act of B.C. In 2013 Caber became Canada’s first Courthouse Dog when he began accompanying witnesses in pre-trial interviews with Crown Counsel and while they wait to testify in Surrey and Vancouver courts.
Then last year, Calgary’s Police Victim Services dog Hawk accompanied a child witness while she testified by closed circuit video from a witness room in the courthouse. Like Caber, Hawk is a graduate of the internationally accredited Pacific Assistance Dog Society. This month, Wren, a yellow lab who works with Edmonton’s Zebra Child Protection Centre, sat with a child witness testifying in an Edmonton court room. In the U.S. ADI accredited dogs have been accompanying vulnerable witnesses during their testimony since 2003. Accreditation by ADI is considered important to ensure that dogs are safe, stable, well-behaved and unobtrusive in a court setting.
CBC – Trauma dog helps Calgary girl testify
Edmonton Journal – Edmonton’s first courthouse intervention