Wednesday, September 6
3:00-4:30 PM Courthouse Dogs 101 - What's It All About?
Ellen O'Neill and Celeste Walsen
This workshop is for you if you are interested in obtaining a facility dog to assist you in the work you do to assist vulnerable people involved in the legal system.
Ellen and Celeste of Courthouse Dogs Foundation will be describing how to best make this effort successful.
This will by a personalized discussion and attendance is limited to 20 attendees. There is a fee of $25 for this special workshop.
5:30-7:00 PM Welcome Reception
Sponsored by Justice Facility Dogs US
Visit with old friends and meet new ones at our welcome reception. The traditional Bow Wow Cocktail will be available, as well as wine and beer and non-alcoholic drinks. This is a good time to sign in at the registration table and collect your name tag and printed program to get ready for a couple of busy days ahead.
Sponsored by Justice Facility Dogs US, an association of facility dog handlers throughout the US, that collaborate with one another to improve their services.
Thursday, September 7
9:00-9:15 AM Welcome
Celeste Walsen and Ellen O'Neill-Stephens
9:15-9:45 AM Probation Officer Marc Mays and his Partner Facility Dog Ned are No Longer Strictly on Probation
Now they are stars providing services to everyone in need at the Wyandot County Juvenile Court and elsewhere in their community.
Marc says, “You know some of these kids, their home life is not great. They come in here and often they’re in a bad mood or have a bad day at school.”
Marc is always careful to ask if they are afraid of dogs. And so far, we haven’t run into that and they’re all ecstatic to see Ned.
Now Ned also sits with children during in-person interviews with the judge or magistrate for custody cases or divorce hearings. And In just a few months their work has expanded beyond counseling youth at the Wyandot County Juvenile Court in Ohio, to also providing services throughout the county when needed. When he’s on duty, Ned wears a special purple vest. He was also sworn in as a probation officer and wears a badge which gives him additional protection through the Ohio Revised Code if someone would try to harm him.
Ned, trained by Tender Loving Canines, an ADI member organization, knows about 50 commands from “sit” and “down” to “squish” providing deep pressure therapy to calm.
9:45-10:45 AM New Practice - Including Facility Dogs in the Investigation of Human Trafficking Cases
As investigations of human trafficking increase, investigators and prosecutors in Alabama have learned the importance of including facility dogs from the beginning of the investigation and continuing through judicial disposition. Human trafficking and crimes against children cases are some of the most difficult cases to investigate and prosecute for many reasons, with the most common reasons being fear, intimidation, and lack of trust. This presentation will examine a very lengthy 2-year Human Trafficking investigation and prosecution that occurred in the Middle District of Alabama involving multiple adults and one child victim, and how facility dogs were utilized in supporting the victims. The conviction, in this case, was the largest Human Trafficking conviction returned in the region.
10:45-11:00 AM Break
11:00-12:00 AM The Dog Aging Project
Have you ever wondered if it would be possible to increase the likelihood that your facility dog will live a full and happy life until old age? Daniel Promislow DPhil, University of Washington, will share with us the preliminary findings of the Dog Aging Project, a long-term research program focused on studying thousands of dogs from all backgrounds. The goal of the study is to learn what contributes to a long and healthy life for a dog and hopefully get some results that could apply to humans.
12:00-1:30 PM Lunch/Networking/Group Photo
1:30 - 2:45 PM The Trade-offs between Intensity, Duration, and Career Length in Facility Dogs
Dr. Jim Ha will review the principles of stress in working animals; talk about the science of work intensity, duration, and chronic effects; and propose a model of the trade-offs in work intensity, duration, and career length that may help guide day-to-day work decisions for facility dog teams.
2:45-3:00 PM Break
3:00-3:45 PM Victim Advocates Offering Comfort, Support, and Dog Hugs to Victims of Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence
Kim Carroll and Mark Kloehn
Mark Kloehn, a community-based victim advocate in Spokane County, WA, and Kim Carroll, a victim advocate with the Thurston County, WA Prosecutor’s Office, will describe the unique and powerful ways they utilize courthouse facility dogs, Walker and Marshal, to enhance the services they provide to victims of sexual assault and domestic violence by providing immediate services and later support during investigative and trial proceedings.
3:45-4:30 PM Deputy Prosecutors and Their Facility Dogs - It Can Be Complicated But It's Worth It!
Simply put, during the search for the truth, there is evidence that prosecutors benefit from including facility dogs to assist vulnerable people during stressful legal proceedings.
However, at times it isn’t so simple and a deputy prosecutor working with a courthouse facility dog can be a bit chaotic. For example, facility dog Kerris was placed with deputy prosecuting attorney Kevin Kelly many years ago and Kellie Pendras was Kerris’ secondary handler. But then Kevin became Judge Kelly, with Kerris spending retirement time in his courtroom and with Kellie at her office a few days a week.
Then Kellie obtained her own facility dog, Lovely (thank goodness her name doesn’t being with a K) and now Kellie includes Lovely in her own jury trials and assists other prosecutors during their trials, forensic interviews, child hearsay hearings, sentencings, defense interviews with children, and offenders participating in Adult and Juvenile Drug Courts. One can imagine that after all of that, when Lovely ends the day with a small “woof “it is her version of “whew” and then Kerris and Lovely get time to play!
4:30-5:00 PM Why Tails Wag Differently: Breed Differences in Dog Behavior
The scientific study of domestic dogs is still in its infancy, but the public demand for this information is at a record high. Culturally, dogs are becoming family members more often than not, and the pet industry reflects this change in the role of domestic animals in our lives (Kurdek, 2009). The latest research on dog behavior includes breed differences, a controversial topic publicly due to the potential to use this information for breed bans. Humans have been purposefully breeding dogs to enhance or remove physical and behavioral characteristics since at least the mid-1800s. Frequently, efforts to enhance or remove a trait have some unintended side effects that are also increased or decreased in frequency. These side effects might be advantageous to the breeder, or they may be unintended side effects of manipulating the intermixing of the genetics of two animals, such as hip dysplasia. Here we focus on the behavioral differences that have arisen in different breed lines. We refer to these as behavioral tendencies as some breeds may be more or less likely to exhibit certain behaviors, such as a love of water. In this talk, we will explore and explain the scientific evidence on what the breed can tell us about behavior, and what it cannot.
5:00-6:30 PM Yappy Hour Reception
Evening Special Event
6:30-8:00 PM Why All Dogs and their Handlers Providing Special Services in Police Agencies Should Be Trained to the Highest Standards
Michael Browett and Timothy Murphy
For decades law enforcement officers and their chosen police service dogs have undergone extensive training together to reliably assist them in searching for drugs and explosives, locating missing people, locating evidence, protecting officers and other people, and apprehending suspects. Many states have adopted standards of performance and training for these police service dogs which have to be maintained to the same levels as when working dog teams graduated.
Facility dogs and handlers, trained by assistance dog organizations that are members of Assistance Dogs International, have equivalent standards of practice as those required by traditional police service dog teams. The assistance dog organizations typically train the dogs from birth for nearly two years, and carefully select them for working in a high stress environment to reduce trauma for victims, witnesses, staff, and other vulnerable people involved in stressful legal proceedings, thereby improving this process. The handlers are also carefully screened for suitability for working with a facility dog on a long-term basis of about 6 to 8 years.
Unfortunately, many law enforcement agencies have taken shortcuts and acquired puppies or unsuitable shelter dogs that are handled by inadequately trained law enforcement professionals for this service, without considering how this practice could result in an injury and/or liability for their agency.
This meeting will showcase the training standards and resulting behavior of certified facility dogs working in law enforcement agencies and describe how utilizing dogs which are unsuitable and not specifically bred and trained for this work can result in unintentional dog bites, threatening behavior, or other unwanted behavior which detracts from the intent of providing trauma reduction and can result in additional trauma to the people we are trying to help. The discussion will further highlight the need for law enforcement to establish and adopt best practice standards similar to those which have been implemented for traditional police service dogs.
A robust Q&A session is expected after this presentation.
Evening Special Interest Groups
Choose a discussion group to learn more and meet other handlers in your field.
6:30-8:00 PM Facility Dogs Assisting Children During Investigations and Legal Proceedings
6:30-8:00 PM Facility Dogs Assisting Victim Advocates
6:30-8:00 PM Canine Behavior
Jim and Renee Ha
Friday, September 8
9:00-9:15 AM Welcome
Celeste Walsen and Ellen O'Neill-Stephens
9:15-10:15 AM Getting Legislation Passed- Sometimes it’s Easy and Sometimes it’s NOT
Ellen O'Neill-Stephens and Manka Dhingra
The King County Prosecutor’s Office in Seattle was the first in the world to include a certified facility dog in a trial. In 2008, facility dog Ellie was permitted to assist a seriously developmentally delayed man to testify against the defendant who had burglarized his home. Since this was something that had rarely been done before, the prosecutor, defense attorney, and the judge were all just kind of winging it when the motion was made to allow Ellie to be in the witness box with the victim.
The defense appealed the judge’s decision to permit the presence of the dog and 5 years later the case went up for review in front of the Washington State Supreme Court. The Court’s decision was in favor of this practice, but the language used in the opinion was ambiguous about the standards needed to justify the presence of the dog, To many it appeared that the judges determined that the presence of the dog had to be necessary for the witnesses to describe what happened.
In 2019 Senator Manka Dhingra, who had also worked as a deputy prosecutor at the King County Prosecutor’s Office, successfully passed The Courthouse Facility Dog Bill. But upon further review, it seemed that the inclusion of the word “necessary” had not been what the supreme court judges intended. Thus began another 4-year effort to amend the bill and three years to get an amended version of the Bill passed.
You will thoroughly enjoy hearing about the ins and outs of writing legislation from Ellen in 2018 and Senator Dhingra’s three years subsequent efforts to get the Bill passed. The Governor has now signed the Bill and again it is a First! But you must attend the presentation to find out why.
10:15-10:30 AM Break
10:30-11:30 AM CASA Facility Dogs Providing Services at Other Agencies
Lacey Ambriz, Communications Director and facility dog Forest’s handler, decided that the Cameron and Willacy Counties’ CASA program should expand their services throughout the community. Not only would Forest’s presence assist children in many more ways, but bring attention to the their CASA services not only through their counties but the State of Texas.
Now Forest and Lacey assist children in forensic interviews at the Child Advocacy Center, Hospitals for Pediatric/Rehabilitation floors and for Hospital staff, Children’s Shelters/Foster homes, and Elementary and High schools.
Michelle Thibodeaux, a member of the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services for those counties, who is involved in cases of children being removed from their homes, has found that Forest’s presence has done a great deal to help children through that process, especially when court appearances are involved.
Although this team is located in the Rio Grande Plains near the tip of the very bottom of that state, they hope to bring this practice to other CASA organizations throughout Texas and imagine creating this as a standard of practice in the United States. This presentation will be their first step to make this happen and hope that the attendees will spread the word!
11:30-12:30 PM Meet Lincoln, the Star of King County Search and Rescue Dogs and His Handler Jon Izant, Who in his Retirement, Loves the Chase.
While the spotlight usually falls on a single dog, search & rescue is actually a team sport and a long game. It takes two to four years and support from a community of experts, colleagues and family to certify a dog-handler team. Training in human remains detection, wilderness air scent or trailing starts with small fun games and builds to complex patterns of search and indication behaviors. Dogs have a 40,000-year head start doing scent work and so search dog handlers require the majority of the training, especially understanding the complexities of air movement and the distribution of scent. Human remains detection presents additional challenges due to changes accompanying decomposition and the size and age of the materials being sought.
“Lincoln”, a fun-loving six-year-old flat-coated retriever, is one of the many amazing canines in King County Search Dogs. Working with Lincoln provides glimpses into his invisible olfactory world and opportunities to save lives.
12:30-1:30 PM Lunch/Netwroking
1:30-2:30 PM Creating a Statewide Program
Susan Bradshaw and Fawn Borden
After Arkansas victim advocate facility dog handlers Susan Bradshaw and Fawn Borden heard Tamara Martin describe how she created a state-wide program to provide services to assist crime victims in Alabama, they decided that they could make that happen in their state too. Soon thereafter, they met with staff at the Arkansas Office of the Prosecutor Coordinator and created “Paws for Justice”. Learn how their program is structured differently and although they now have only three dogs available, this has been such a success they are confident that it will continue to grow. Who in our audience will be inspired to create the third program?
2:30-3:45 PM Tail of Two Centers - Including a Facility Dog at a Children's Advocacy Center
Children’s Advocacy Centers (CAC) represent a national best practice model for investigation, assessment and treatment for children who are victims of child abuse and their families. In Washington State we have 19 accredited CACs and 6 centers in development. While the core components of a CAC are consistent across all centers, each location has its own personality. The host organization, community where the center is located, and work culture impact daily operations.
Jody and Daze have worked together in two very different centers. Daze was introduced to her job while Jody was working at the Children’s Advocacy Center of Pierce County, a hospital-based CAC in a diverse community. Jody’s position in Pierce County was program manager. In December 2020, Jody and Daze changed jobs and joined the team at Monarch Children’s Justice and Advocacy Center in Lacey Washington. Monarch is embedded in a non-profit social service agency that also provides essential care for the community, including housing, energy assistance, and weatherization. Jody’s position also changed to Forensic Interviewer.
CACs offer numerous opportunities for Facility Dogs. The benefit of their presence is experienced beyond the children served to include the Multidisciplinary team, agency, and community. Through this presentation, Jody will share an overview of the CAC model and lessons learned at each center.
3:45-4:00 PM Break
4:00-4:45 PM Your Questions Answered by an Expert Panel
Moderated by Tamara Martin
Do you have a question that you really want to know the answer to? The conference will close with an opportunity for you to ask a panel of experienced handlers any questions that you may have that we have not answered during the conference. Start now by making note of your questions, and let’s see if you can stump the panel. There are no dumb or “not important” questions, so put your thinking caps on and let’s hear what the panel has to say.
4:45-5:00 PM Closing Remarks
Celeste Walsen and Ellen O'Neill-Stephens
7:00-8:30 PM Farewell Gathering