Do you believe in the Endless Pawsibilities of the human-animal bond?✕
When youngsters are summoned to juvenile court, it’s a pretty sure bet their hearts aren’t joyful. For many, a court appearance is a new and intimidating experience, while for others it’s become routine. However, one common denominator that’s been observed, regardless of whether the young person appears disinterested or fearful is their reaction when they see a therapy dog in the courtroom. “The dog makes the child feel special and cared about because it is there just for them,” says Utah Pet Partners court volunteer Paulette Bennett, “and then a tail starts to wag as the dog senses the connection.”
Therapy dogs are provided in response to a judge’s request, typically for individual cases where a child needs additional support. “In order to avoid potential problems associated with juries, our court therapy dog teams are present only for bench hearings and trials,” says Utah Pet Partners (UPP) Director Deb Carr. “Our handlers and leaders meet with interested judges before the program starts in a particular district to make sure everyone understands the limitations, policies and procedures.” Each district is asked to write up its own policies and procedures, usually using Pet Partners policies and procedures as a template. UPP provides the court volunteer teams with additional instructions and resources regarding self-care and the prevention of secondary trauma in their work.
If you have dreamed of volunteering with your animal, or even if you don’t have an animal but would like to volunteer, or if you’re currently a volunteer but would like to refresh your skills, then the Fur-Real Hands-On Handler Practicum is for you!
The name of the class “Fur-Real Hands-On Handler Practicum” is new, but Therapy Animals of Utah (TAU) has been teaching these principles and techniques for the past 20 years.
Our mission statement is: Sharing the comfort, love, hope and healing of the human-animal bond through training, service, education and research. Effective training is integral to our mission. Additionally, Therapy Animals of Utah is proud to be the only Utah Community Partner of Pet Partners, a pioneer and leader in animal-assisted interactions and in the training and testing of therapy animal teams.