Therapy Dogs In Delco Courthouse Help Calm Families In Stressful Situations

By Jim Melwert

DELAWARE COUNTY, Pa. (CBS) — Delaware County is teaming up with an organization to bring therapy dogs into the courthouse. The canine companions are trained to help calm people – especially children – in stressful situations.

Delaware County councilman John McBlain says the dogs will be in the waiting areas for juvenile delinquency and dependency courts.

(credit: Delaware County Government)

(credit: Delaware County Government)

“It’s our hope that the Paws for People teams will calm children their families and others who might be nervous while waiting for their cases to be heard.”

The dogs and their owners volunteer through Paws for People. Paws for People director Stephanie Barry says they understand people have allergies, or may not want a dog around, so the dogs are trained not to approach people.

“We always stop, we always introduce ourselves and we always ask for permission in advance.”

Volunteer Kathryn Meloni explained that the dogs wear tags that say “Please pet me.”

“So people know it’s not a service dog, it’s a therapy dog. A service dog is for the person, the actual handler. A therapy dog is for everyone else.”

David Mullenix and Ariel outside delco courthouse (credit: Jim Melwert)

David Mullenix and Ariel outside delco courthouse (credit: Jim Melwert)

Dave Mullinex volunteers with his dog Ariel.

“She loves, loves, loves children. So when I heard about this program I knew she’d be a really good fit for it.”

The contract with Paws for people costs $1,000 for 12 months.

Nine dogs will rotate here at the Delaware county courthouse, starting next week. The program costs $1,000 for 12 months.

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