LOS ANGELES: The twins were 7, shy and scared. Talking was tough and describing what happened nearly impossible.
So the prosecutor preparing them to testify against the father they said molested them borrowed a dog named Jeeter.
"It was a last ditch effort to try to build rapport with my kids, who are terribly shy," said Kelly Dempsey, the twins' mother. "The prosecutor had no idea how to get through to them. ... He just believed down to the depths of his soul the girls had been wronged and he wanted so badly to find justice for them."
In Seattle 10 years ago, Jeeter became the first professionally trained dog to help a child testify, experts said. Dogs have been used with thousands of victims and witnesses since.
Today, there are 41 courthouse dogs working in 19 states and several more being considered, but some challenges are working their way through the courts, driven by attorneys who claim the dogs are distractions or sympathy magnets. So far, all lower courts have upheld the use of dogs.
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