Meet Caber – the dog who helps child sex abuse victims to give evidence in court.

trauma dog

 

Caber is a hero – and he probably doesn’t even realise the lives he saves.

Canadian police officers have allowed one of their own dogs into court to comfort a 10-year-old girl during her testimony as a victim of child sex abuse.

trauma dog
Seven-year-old Caber. One amazing dog.

Seven-year-old Caber was the special Labrador permitted by police to be used as a support service by the victim, as she recounted the traumatic crimes. For most of the trial, the beautiful dog sat protectively around the girl’s feet.

Caber’s handler, Kim Gramlich, told reporters that the girl frequently bent down to cuddle and hold Caber, who appeared to calm her down. Without Caber, Ms Gramlich doubts that the victim would have been able to get through her “highly traumatic and emotional testimony”.

Crown lawyer, William Sayson, who applied for Caber to be allowed into the courtroom, said that, “When the child was testifying, she would reach down to just pet or rub the dog. When she broke down during the testimony, we had to stand down. She basically lay down beside the dog. They laid down together and it really helped her calm down and she was able to return to court and complete her testimony.”

Caber is one beautiful and special dog. (Post continues after gallery.)

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One child, who has used Caber as a support service, says that when the dog is around “all the bad stuff just goes away.”

This is reportedly the first time a dog has been allowed into a Canadian courtroom for support services, with common law stating that victims under 18 years of age are allowed “support persons”.

Animal assistance therapy is being increasingly used to help victims, particularly children, of traumatic events to grieve and heal from their ordeals. Using dogs as a form of therapy became well-known through a 2010 case, where a 15-year-old girl used a ‘comfort dog’ to testify against her father who raped and impregnated her.

Do you want to get to know Caber? Here’s a video all about him. (Post continues after gallery.)

Mary Jo McVeigh, an Australia counselor and child trauma expert, is a trail-blazer in animal assistance therapy. In 2011, McVeigh opened up Cara House, a unique clinic that offers children dealing with trauma sessions to connect with her dog, Toby.

McVeigh first noticed the heart-warming effects that her dog, Toby, had on a young girl, traumatised by abuse, who would not allow adults to touch her. Upon meeting Toby, the girl immediately connected with him and trusted the dog. McVeigh, who has been trained in animal assistance therapy, says that due to abusive experiences, many children can’t trust adults, and so feel more comfortable with docile animals.

You can read more of the work that Cara House does here. To learn about the incredible work that Caber and his friend do, you can follow Victim Services at @DPVictimService.

Have you had an experience with animal assistance therapy? What do you think of Caber and his work? 

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