Senator John Cornyn is Going to the DAWGS

The Senator laughs at the remark about going to the dogs but his affection for animals is evident as he talk about his long-standing interest in providing guidance to federal judges on how best to integrate dogs into federal courthouses. He is proposing the Dog As Witness Guardian Act, shorthanded with DAWG.

“I love dogs. I love all types of animals,” he says with a smile when reminded of his penchant for posting critter photos on his social media accounts.

There are 31 states that allow highly-trained, very specialized facility dogs to be present, though out of view of juries, on witness stands, providing comfort to mostly children called upon to testify to criminal sexual acts perpetrated against them or someone they know. Texas is among those states and a dog's presence is at the discretion of the judge. It is at the federal level that application gets ambiguous.

“Using these trained dogs, frequently these child victims, who may not even be willing to speak, once they come in contact with these dogs, their attitude changes and they then even cooperate with federal law enforcement officials,” Senator Cornyn tells KTRH News.

The FBI has two dogs they make available for federal cases. These aren’t your basic comfort dogs; the training is exacting, rigorous and takes years. The dogs remain motionless and silent at the feet of the witness, sometimes touching, in a place where they cannot be seen by the jury and are not prejudicial to a verdict, and sometimes lay there for hours on end without moving. Their presence has been shown to be very comforting to traumatized children called on to testify in sexual assault cases, often testimony that could not be gained in the absence of assistance. Senator Cornyn would like to outline guidance for federal justices.

“This would give federal judges the discretion to allow dogs in the courtroom as a comfort to children and witnesses who have suffered some type of trauma,” he explains. The Senator was in Houston Friday to demonstrate the effectiveness of experienced courtroom facility dogs.

Senate Lawmakers Address The Press After Their Weekly Policy Meetings

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