What is Powerful Paws for Children?Powerful Paws for Children is a new service that will be provided through the Children's Advocacy Center program. Powerful Paws for Children is a facility companion named “Hayward” that will provide additional advocacy and support to children in our mission to give voice, healing and security to children. Our Facility Dog or companion is a professionally trained adult animal that was trained by Canine Companions for Independence (CCI), a national organization that specializes in training service dogs. CCI is an accredited member of Assistance Dog International and has placed over 3,800 dogs since it was founded in 1975. Child Advocacy Services will serve as the host for our companion “Hayward”. He will work full time at the Children’s Advocacy Center (CAC) and live with a staff handler. Although the working life of a dog is on average 8 years, CCI will maintain ownership during that time. Hayward a lab golden retriever, trained in over forty commands.
CAS Powerful Paws for Children Fact Sheet
How does the program work?During the work day, Hayward will enhance the services provided at the CAC to victims and non-offending caregivers. The handler will inform families about the Powerful Paws for Children Program upon their arrival to determine if they would like to utilize him during their forensic interview process. If the family chooses to utilize Hayward, the handler will introduce him to the family while our staff handler is providing advocacy to them prior to the interview. The victims and family members will be able to pet the dog and give it easy commands such as lie down or sit which will help the victim and family members feel comfortable and safe at the CAC. During a forensic interview, Hayward is trained to lie beside the child so that the child can pet or touch the dog.
After the forensic interview, Hayward will remain with the victim and family until they are finished with the post interview follow up with the investigators. While Hayward is not being utilized for services with families, he will be “off duty” in a designated area of the CAC. This area will be out of site of anyone that is in the CAC. Families who choose not to utilize the Powerful Paws for Children Program will not see Hayward or be introduced to this service.
What are the benefit to children?In 2011, the National District Attorneys Association adopted a resolution which supports the use of “Courthouse” or “Comfort” Dogs to aid in the investigation of crimes involving young or vulnerable victims and in situations where these animals would aid in the preparation for, or during trial or hearing testimony. Research shows that animals provide calming, provide positive physiological benefits, and reduce anxiety in people. A dog may help a child be calmer, more comfortable and secure, therefore improving the child’s ability to recall traumatic information during the forensic interview. Facility Dogs are currently being utilized in 17 states, Canada, and Chile. Currently, Child Advocacy Services is the only program in Louisiana piloting this program. Our overall goal is to enhance our “child friendly” atmosphere, increase advocacy, and provide additional safety for children while reducing trauma for child victims of sexual or severe physical assault. For more information on facility dogs, visit www.courthousedogs.org and www.cci.org.
Thank You to our PartnersChild Advocacy Services is very appreciative of our community partnerships and the support they provide.
Canine Companions for Independence
Children's Advocacy Centers of Louisiana
Hammond Veterinary Services
Hill's Science Diet
Louisiana's Children's Justice Act
Tractor Supply Company
Tri-Parish Victims' Assistance Program - 21st Judicial District Attorney Scott Perrilloux
United Way of Southeast Louisiana - Tangipahoa Parish