BennettComfortCanineSPRINGFIELD- A new law authorizing the use of dogs in courtrooms was signed into law today.  

State Senator Scott Bennett’s (D-Champaign) initiative will allow courts to authorize the use of “comfort canines” when children or others with a severe developmental or intellectual disability have to testify in court on sexual assault cases.  

“As a former prosecutor, I have seen first-hand the emotional trauma children face during trial. The entire ordeal of testifying and reliving a horrible experience is paralyzing for them,” said Bennett.  

Bennett hopes to alleviate some of the stress and anxiety by providing some relief to children through the use of therapy dogs.

“This is one small step we can take to make this difficult experience a little easier,” said Bennett. “The use of dogs in the courtroom can help promote a major reform in the way we meet the emotional needs of those involved in the criminal justice system.”

Authorized dogs would be required to go through training and be evaluated and registered as a member of Assistance Dogs International.

Senate Bill 1389 will take effect on January 1, 2016

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