Page Ulrey, an attorney and pioneer in the use of courthouse dogs

Page Ulrey–a senior deputy prosecuting attorney in Seattle’s King County–discusses the genesis of courthouse dogs, which are used to make children and others more comfortable when testifying or being interviewed about sexual assaults or other emotionally upsetting crimes: Based on experience with her son’s service dog, a colleague thought service dogs could provide comfort to children and others who are victims or witnesses of crimes, and this dovetailed with a period when Ulrey was ready to add a dog to her life.


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Ulrey recalls applying to Canine Companions For Independence, going to the CCI center for training, being paired with her Labrador retriever mix, Ellie (noting she didn’t initially feel she was a good fit with Ellie), and how she quickly fell in love with her. Subsequently, the use of courthouse dogs has been embraced in various parts of the country. Ulrey also recounts facets of the training, including unusual challenges, and what constitutes the ideal temperament for a courthouse dog. Outlining the sort of work Ellie does, Ulrey cites a specific example of a case that she helped on. She explains some legal challenges that have been raised in New York and Washington about the use of courthouse dogs, and how while those appeals are pending, Ellie continues to be brought in to assist on interviews, but is not involved in working in the courtroom.

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About the author
Duncan Strauss is the producer-host of “Talking Animals,” which he launched at KUCI in California in 2003, combining his passions for animals, radio, journalism, music and comedy. The show has aired since late 2005 on Tampa’s WMNF. Strauss lives in Jupiter Farms, FL with his family, including four cats, two horses and one dog. He spends each day talking to those animals, and maintains they talk right back to him, an as yet unverified claim.

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