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Learning Center Experience
By Cyndi Palma Adjunct Faculty, Kaplan
University, School of Social and Behavioral Sciences
Rosie was a
11-year-old golden retriever who went to work at The Children’s Home of
Poughkeepsie, a foster care agency in New York in 2001. Rosie was a
fully trained facility service dog who worked with children. While with the
Agency, Rosie worked with children who were in foster care after being removed
from their parents, most of these children had been physically, emotionally, or
sexually abused. All were traumatized, at least to some extent.
was to provide comfort, support, and encouragement to the children and she did
exactly that. Rosie was specially trained to recognize certain cues and respond
in ways that would be comforting to the child. Rosie participated in therapy
sessions and visits children had with their parents, engaged in petting and
cuddling sessions, and actively played with the children during playtime.
Rosie’s success at her job, she received special permission to attend a court
proceeding where a 15-year-old girl required to testify against her father for
sexually abusing her. Rosie stayed with this child in the witness box, kept her
head on the girl’s lap and knew when this girl was struggling emotionally and
responded by gently nudging the girl’s arm. With this kind of support, the girl
was able to complete this grueling and painful testimony without further trauma
and her abuser was sentenced to 25 years to life.
By being in
the courtroom and providing support and
comfort to this girl, Rosie set a precedent in New York State. She was the
first judicially approved courtroom dog in New York State. Shortly after
Rosie’s court room appearance, Rosie’s Law was proposed by Senator Terry Gipson
and Assemblyman Frank Skartados in May 2013.
Rosie’s Law would
allow judges the discretion to decide if a facility dog can accompany certain
witness to the witness stand while they testify. Rosie’s Law would not just affect
children, but also adults. Advocates for domestic violence praise the law, as
abused women and other distressed witnesses would be able to use a facility dog
while testifying. Unfortunately, the proposed bill was not voted on during New
York’s last Assembly session and has been tabled for a later date. When that
date will be is currently unknown.
for Rosie’s Law in New York will continue to push the Assembly and Senate to
take action. The success of facility service dogs in other states shows the
emotional benefits to witnesses by allowing the dogs in the courtroom.
2012, Rosie passed away; she cannot be replaced and is sorely missed. She has
however been succeeded by her grandson, Ace. Ace has stepped up and is working
with the children and is loved by many.
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