Most of them won’t testify, won’t go through a deposition, if they don’t have a dog beside them.A child once asked Hart-Rittenhouse the heartbreaking question, "If he (the defendant) comes over and tries to hurt me, will Karl protect me?" Although Karl is not trained in this capacity, Hart-Rittenhouse assured the child that he would leap to her rescue in order to ease her mind. Karl's actual role during the trials is far more straightforward - he is simply there. His size gives them a sense of security and his calm, relaxed demeanor seems to rub off on them. As they answer questions, they can stroke Karl's soft white fur with their feet - he's out of sight, but certainly not out of mind for the victims. Hart-Rittenhouse remains in the courtroom each time Karl is called to help a child. She has heard testimony of cruelty, neglect and abuse most of us cannot even imagine. She endures it because she believes strongly in the service she is providing. So much so that after the verdict is rendered, Karl and Hart-Rittenhouse do not simply disappear from the brave young witnesses' lives. They often continue to visit with the kids, further aiding in the healing process.
We’ll be there as long as the child wants Karl to stay in their life. He's helped a lot of children.Karl is one of six therapy dogs currently working in the K-9th Circuit Program. Each dog and their handlers are TDI certified members of Companions for Courage, currently the only provider approved to work in Orange County's Ninth Circuit.
H/T to Bay News 9
Featured Image via Amanda McKenzie/Bay News 9