Dogs help ease courtroom stress for kids

There's a new face in courtrooms here in Pennsylvania and around the country and they may well have a long snout, floppy ears and a velvet coat.

Enter the courthouse stress therapy dog.

Judicial systems have gradually been introducing dogs into courtrooms in situations involving nervous victims and witnesses called upon to testify about horrible things done to them or others.

In Bucks County the arrival of therapy dogs has helped bring smiles and coaxed words from nervous children and adults that could mean the difference between a guilty verdict and an acquittal in felony cases. The Inquirer's Emilie Lounsberry reported in Sunday's paper.

But as the presence of the courtroom canines grows defense lawyers are striking back, saying the sight of the dogs could sway animal-loving jurors. The New York Times reported that story last week.

(Photo/Clem Murray/Inquirer)