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Video: Man’s best friend in court

  1. Closed captioning of: Man’s best friend in court

    >>> it's often said and you may know, a dog's job is unconditional love . that's what they do. and in a whole straight category are service dogs . working dogs that take their work very seriously. tonight, we have a special story about dogs that work in courtrooms to provide comfort to those that need it. those who suffer trauma and may not be able to get through the legal system without it, without them. the story tonight from nbc's anne thompson .

    >> reporter: in the criminal justice system , the people are helped by four paws, these are their stories. elly is an unlikely fixture in seattle's king county courthouse . today, the lab works with the special assault unit, not to sniff out trouble, but to help those in it. just looking at these dogs, allows people to feel more of a sense of calm.

    >> reporter: especially young victims. prosecutor o'neil stevens says the dog helps children abused by a parent or authority figure find the courage to tell their stories.

    >> the presence of a dog during the course of a stressful trial can sometimes make the difference between a conviction and an acquittal.

    >> reporter: in at least ten states, dogs aid in investigative interviews or courtroom testimony. the newest is new york . rosy is new york 's first dog to sit at a witness' feet.

    >> she'll know when you need her. she'll know, she'll come up and see you and she's very gentle. she'll never tell your secrets.

    >> rosy and other courthouse dogs are professionally trained, calm, quiet and reassuring when a victim is stressed. in june, rosy sat be side a 15-year-old rape victim as she testified. the assailant convicted and sentenced to 25 years to life. rosy is now an argument for his appeal. but it's not allergies or smells or even behavior that the defense attorney objects to. he says rosy gave the prosecution an unfair advantage. the advantage is sympathy from the jury.

    >> the dog's presence impacted their ability to decide the issues in the case based solely on the evidence.

    >> reporter: prosecutors say the soothing presence of the dog is not about sympathy, but getting reluctant victims to talk. four-legged friends that provide comfort and unconditional love .

    >> good boy.

    >> reporter: anne thompson , nbc news, dobbs ferry, new york .

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