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Court Dogs For Abused and Neglected AR Children?

PHOTO: Molly B, a service dog from the Courthouse Dogs Foundation in Washington state, will be in Little Rock next week, and her visit might spark a program to bring her kin to Arkansas to help abused children going through the legal system. Courtesy of the Courthouse Dogs Foundation.
PHOTO: Molly B, a service dog from the Courthouse Dogs Foundation in Washington state, will be in Little Rock next week, and her visit might spark a program to bring her kin to Arkansas to help abused children going through the legal system. Courtesy of the Courthouse Dogs Foundation.
September 6, 2013

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – Organizers hope one thing to come out of a conference next week will be that service dogs will accompany Arkansas children who have to testify about abuse and neglect.

Molly B won't be a keynote speaker at the MidSOUTH Training Academy's child abuse conference – maybe a keynote barker.

But Joylyn Humphrey, a trainer and writer with MidSOUTH, says the conference will feature Molly and the humans she's bringing along.

Humphrey says they'll talk about how service dogs could help make the legal system a little less awful for children who have to go through it.

"It's very therapeutic for them to have that unconditional acceptance and love, because there is a lot of shame with abuse, and there's no judgment from an animal," she explains.

The 10th annual Arkansas Child Abuse and Neglect Conference – Reaping the Harvest – will run Wednesday through Friday in Little Rock.

Molly B is a service dog from the Courthouse Dogs Foundation based in Washington state.

Humphrey says Arkansas doesn't have a program that provides service dogs for children going though the courts. But she says MidSOUTH hopes folks here might be able to start one.

"Bringing affection and comfort, being a calming presence is an incredible boon to children,” she says. “And we don't currently have something like that."

Humphrey adds the conference also will have sessions on other important topics, including online safety, human trafficking in Arkansas and the large proportion of negligence cases compared to abuse. One session will be on how poverty can put children at risk.

Humphrey points out it is an excellent event for people in the helping professions – difficult, demanding jobs with little money or recognition.

And she says mistreated children are always vulnerable when governments write their budgets.

"They are often the first to be overlooked,” she explains. “And whenever we need to find money, it's usually the children who suffer first."

Dan Heyman, Public News Service - AR