Canine Advocacy Program Helps Children Through Testimonies, Court Appearances

(CBS DETROIT) – A program that began to assist kids by way of the legal justice system has expanded its providers.

“The Canine Advocacy Program, which was started in 2010 and has come under the Care House umbrella in 2022, is really about providing comfort and safety and security, at least that feeling of comfort to children and adult victims of violence or abuse,” stated CARE House President and CEO Blythe Tyler.

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CARE House of Oakland County is the primary group of its type in Michigan, supporting kids with trauma by way of Canine Advocates.

The group now has its personal canine, named Harper.

“Harper as a Canine Advocate is trained differently than maybe a therapy dog or a service dog,” Tyler stated.

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“In the case of a service dog, they’re trained to assist one person, and so their training looks different. In terms of a therapy dog, a therapy dog has a lot less training than Harper. Harper, specifically, is trained to be loved, to be petted, to be calm and to have lots of people approach her.”

The program makes use of career-changing canines with particular coaching to assist children by way of anxious episodes like witness testimony and court docket appearances.

Currently, there are 31 canines actively working all through the state, with two on the Oakland County Prosecutor’s workplace.

“It’s hard to be able to talk about things that are scary, traumatic experiences, and it’s hard to process those feelings and those thoughts. So, Harper just provides a little extra, a little extra level of support when kids need it,” Tyler stated.

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