Illinois facility dogs provide comfort in court - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

Illinois facility dogs provide comfort in court

A northern Illinois county is using a new type of therapy dog aimed to help in sexual assault and abuse cases. (Source: Raycom Media) A northern Illinois county is using a new type of therapy dog aimed to help in sexual assault and abuse cases. (Source: Raycom Media)

ROCKFORD, Ill. (AP) - A northern Illinois county is using a new type of therapy dog aimed to help in sexual assault and abuse cases.

The Rockford Register Star reports that Winnebago County began using facility dogs this year after a 2016 state law. Facility dogs are trained to accompany witnesses into courtrooms to calm people who've been traumatized or are afraid to testify.

Rockford lawyer Paul Vella says the animals may sway jurors' opinion by making individuals with dogs seem more favorable. He also says jurors may miss evidence or testimony because they're distracted by the dogs.

Judge John Lowry says a judge can decide case-by-case whether to allow using the animals. He recently granted one request in a child sexual assault case, but denied another request.

Lowry says dogs can also be available for defendants.

Information from: Rockford Register Star, http://www.rrstar.com

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