Canine Court Companion Program
What is the Canine Court Companion Program?
For more than 30 years, Guide Dogs NSW/ACT has been running a community service at no cost to clients called the Pets As Therapy (PAT) Program. The PAT Program provides Therapy Dogs to clients that need comfort and emotional support.
The Canine Court Companion Program is an initiative by Guide Dogs NSW/ACT in partnership with the NSW Government which allows our Therapy Dogs to provide therapy services to court users across NSW.
How do the Therapy Dogs help court users?
The Guide Dogs NSW/ACT Team and Canine Court Program volunteers will be walking through the courthouses with the Therapy Dogs and spending time with anyone who may be anxious and in need of comfort.
Through this, we hope to make a person’s visit to a court less stressful and take the court user’s mind off things that they might be struggling with. The presence of the Therapy Dog can help to lower a person’s anxiety through stressful and confronting situations.
Where is the Canine Court Companion Program available?
The Canine Court Companion Program is currently running in Manly Courthouse. The program will be rolling out to an additional ten courts in Sydney and Regional NSW including Gosford, Sutherland, Burwood and Campbelltown; and Regional locations of Lismore, Taree, Goulburn, Nowra and Orange.
Are Therapy Dogs different from Guide Dogs?
Therapy Dogs and Guide Dogs have different roles in how they assist the community.
A working Guide Dog wears an easily recognisable Guide Dog harness. When Guide Dogs are wearing their harness, they are on duty and focused on guiding their handler and should not be patted or distracted.
However, a Therapy Dog is there to engage with people and respond to their needs. Therapy Dogs provide companionship and comfort - and they are happy to be patted!
How can I apply for a Canine Court Companion Program?
To ensure the welfare of our dogs and to provide the right service for all clients, the following steps must be taken before an individual can apply for a Canine Court Companion Program.