State's First Courthouse Dog Arrives In Dickson County - | Nashville News, Weather & Sports

State's First Courthouse Dog Arrives In Dickson County

Posted: Updated:

by Heather Graf

CHARLOTTE, Tenn. - You expect to see our four-legged friends running or playing in parks or perhaps a backyard.  Seeing a dog sitting in a courtroom is a bit more uncommon - but it's now happening in Dickson County.

Pavlov the dog is the first of his kind in the state of Tennessee.

"He's very attentive, he's laid back and calm," said Kim Stringfield-Davis, who went through weeks of training with Pavlov.

She's also the executive director of the Child Advocacy Center for the 23rd District.

"Child advocates work with children who've been victims or alleged victims of physical or sexual abuse, or have had exposure to methamphetamine production or witness to domestic violence," she said.

Oftentimes, those children are scared to even speak about what they witnessed or went through.

That's where Pavlov comes in.

"Pavlov will be available for the children during an interview, to ease and comfort that process," she said.

If the case goes to trial, Pavlov even accompanies those young victims to the courthouse, often sitting in the witness stand with them during testimony.

"These dogs are so well trained, that when they're lying down on the floor, perfectly comfortable, they give the unspoken message that there's nothing to worry about," said Ellen O'Neill-Stephens, who founded the Courthouse Dogs Foundation.  "So if you're feeling stressed and you look at this dog or touch this very calm dog, you have the feeling that everything is okay.  That's how it works."

Before Pavlov began working in Dickson County, staff at the courthouse had to also be trained about how to treat him, particularly while he's in the courtroom.

It's also important to point out, Pavlov is available to help children testifying for both the prosecution and the defense.

"So he is a very neutral, unbiased party," said Stringfield-Davis.

The now three-year-old Labrador mix has been in training since he was eight weeks old.  Since then, Dickson County has been waiting to put him to work. 

Stringfield-Davis says it's been worth the wait.

"Just to see the impact it's had on the kids he's already interacted with has been worth it all," she said.

The Courthouse Dogs Foundation was started in 2003.  Currently, there are 39 professionally trained courthouse dogs working in 19 different states, with Pavlov being the first in Tennessee.

To learn more about the program, click here:


Powered by WorldNow
Powered by WorldNow
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 NewsChannel 5 (WTVF-TV) and WorldNow. All Rights Reserved.
For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.