Eighteen therapy dogs sworn in for service in the Second Judicial Circuit

Woman holding her dog next to a smiling judge in his robe
Tallahassee Memorial HealthCare Animal Therapy Program / Tallahassee Memorial HealthCare Animal Therapy Program

Eighteen new therapy dogs will be sworn in for service in the Second Judicial Circuit Friday. The dogs and their handlers will help people in court — especially children — cope with stress.

Stephanie Perkins is the director of animal therapy at Tallahassee Memorial HealthCare. She says swearing in the new dogs will bring the program to a total of 39 teams active in the circuit. Many of the teams work with children who have been abused and are in court to testify.

“A lot of them have been abused by people that they know…family members, caregivers…and they have to go in and testify against the perpetrator,” said Perkins. “This can be really stressful for them and their families, and so our dogs and teams are there to support them during this by lowering their anxiety, reducing stress, lowering cortisol levels and making court a happier place to go then it would be otherwise.”

The celebration happens Friday afternoon at 1:30 p.m. in Courtroom 2E. Chief Circuit Judge Jonathan Sjostrom says it’s a way for the courts to show their appreciation to the volunteers and their animal partners.

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