Dog Helps Little Girl Testify Against Abusive Father
09 Dec 2014
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Many a times, it is difficult to really express what one feels, not because one does not know what the feeling is all about but simply because one does not know of the repercussions the revelations will lead to. This was the case of a 7-year-old little girl who could not express the trauma that she had gone through due to her sexually abusive father. But a dog changed the entire scene, and today, the girl is a little more self-assured to testify against her father in a criminal trial.
Hawk, the dog who has given reassurance to the little girl, is no ordinary dog. Hawk is a 3-year-old Labrador Retriever who is trained as a trauma dog to help people, especially in the victim assistance unit. Hawk supports witnesses and victims of crime, especially little children. Being the third trauma dog in Canada, Hawk has already helped a number of people by connecting with them, simply by being there with them. Chief Rick Hanson is very proud of Hawk and boasts of how Hawk, with his calm demeanor, builds instant trust and helps the children open up and talk about their traumatic experience. Hawk was raised and trained by the Pacific Assistance Dog Society.
When the criminal case began, the little girl was scared of connecting and speaking to any adult. However, with the judge’s permission, a couple of play dates were arranged with Hawk so that the girl could be comfortable with a dog around. Slowly, with hawk curled up by her side, the little girl began to give the ghastly details of her father’s crime, including sexual assault with weapon and forcible confinement involving the little girl and her mother. At times, while giving the interview, the little girl would pat Hawk as if gaining strength from him, at times get restless with the thought of what she went through. The little girl was able to testify against her father and has been put in protective foster care.
Chief Rick Hanson says that, at times, the stress of the situation takes a toll on Hawk, but he is persistent and stays along with the trauma victim and brings a calming effect on them. Children who have been through victims of traumatic crimes are able to bond with Hawk knowing that there is nothing to be afraid of and that there is nothing wrong in sharing. Having Hawk with them in courtrooms makes them realize that no matter what, Hawk will not judge them of what they have been through. Chief Hanson plans to add another trauma dog to the team to take off the work-load of Hawk.