Anyone who has had the honor of living with a dog is already familiar with the wonderful energy they bring to our lives. With their gentle dispositions and soulful eyes, it’s hard not to feel relaxed around a dog, which is why trained therapy dogs have long provided emotional support for people going through difficult situations, such as, serving as a witness in court.
The fear and stress of having to relive a traumatic event or face an attacker in court can be so overwhelming, it can prevent victims from being able to testify. Dogs help people overcome these fears by serving as a comforting companion during the trial. For the brave women who recently testified against former Olympic team doctor Larry Nassar, therapy dog Preston has been helping them through the traumatic ordeal.
The two-year-old Black Labrador has spent every single day at the sentencing of Larry Nassar, providing tail wags and belly rubs to the victims. Preston is a therapy dog at the Small Talk Children’s Assessment Center, a domestic abuse treatment center in Lansing, Michigan.
Preston has been a therapy dog for Small Talk Children’s Assessment Center since September 2016. Usually, he provides comfort to children, but the state’s attorney general’s office reached out to see if Preston was available for Nassar’s court hearings.
Preston would wait in the hallway of the courthouse and people are welcome to say hello if they wish.
“Having Preston here has just been a joy. He really seeks out wanting to comfort people,” Samantha Ursch, who testified last week told ABC News.
The simple act of petting a dog can bring comfort to someone who may be afraid or feel too upset to talk, helping them tell their story and bring perpetrators to justice. Thank you for your service, Preston!
“Preston is providing a lot of unconditional love and comfort to some people who really need it right now. It’s very much about healing and providing hope to survivors of sexual assault and physical abuse,” said Alex Brace, Executive Director of Small Talk Children’s Assessment Center to ABC News.
After 150 women confronted Nassar in the courtroom, he was recently sentenced to 40 to 175 years in prison for multiple sex crimes by Judge Rosemarie Aquilina. Even in our darkest moments, we can find strength with the help of a canine companion.
For more information on Small Talk Children’s Assessment Center, click here.
Image Source: Small Talk Children’s Assessment Center/Facebook