Bipartisan Legislation Would Enable Therapy Dogs to Accompany Children Testifying in Maryland Courts
ANNAPOLIS, MD— Governor Larry Hogan today welcomed over a dozen therapy dogs and their handlers to the Maryland State House to express his strong support for bipartisan legislation to provide therapy dogs for children testifying in Maryland courts. They were joined by fellow advocates, along with the bills’ primary sponsors, Senator Bryan Simonaire and Delegate Michael Malone.
HB311/SB101 will establish a program to provide a therapy dog to a child witness in any circuit court proceeding in the state. These highly trained service animals provide comfort to children who must describe traumatic experiences in court, allowing them to focus on the therapy dog rather than the details of their testimony. Pilot programs have been run successfully in Anne Arundel and Howard County Courts.
“I am proud to support the Court Dogs and Child Witnesses Program bill, which has seen incredible bipartisan support in the House and the Senate,” said Governor Hogan. “This innovative approach to supporting child witnesses will provide comfort to vulnerable Marylanders when they need it most.”
The therapy dogs and handlers present today represented two organizations: the Maryland Children’s Alliance, which provides dedicated facility dogs to child victims of abuse, and Caring Canines, which partnered with Anne Arundel County Circuit Court for its court dog pilot program. Governor Hogan presented each organization with an official governor’s citation.