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National Crime Victim Law Institute

2014 Victims’ Rights Partnership Award: Courthouse Dogs Foundation

May 26, 2014

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NCVLI’s Victims’ Rights Partnership Award recognizes the collaborative efforts of individuals and/or organizations who have devoted their time to advancing crime victims’ rights.

The Courthouse Dogs Foundation is a non-profit staffed by retired senior deputy prosecuting attorney Ellen O’Neill-Stephens, veterinarian Celeste Walsen, and the lovely courthouse facility dog Molly B.  Together they promote justice with compassion by helping prosecutors, detectives, victim advocates, judges and legislators understand how facility dogs can provide a sense of well-being and security to vulnerable victims and witnesses during stressful legal proceedings.  Facility dogs are graduates from assistance dog organizations that are members of Assistance Dogs International and are handled by criminal justice professionals.  The Foundation also provides guidance to these legal professionals about how to obtain these expertly trained dogs to become working members of their offices.  This practice ensures that the dog and the handler will provide the best services to crime victims over a long working career together.  Through their tireless efforts, Ellen and Celeste have shared their innovative program and partnered with other professionals to protect victims. As a result there are now 67 courthouse facility dogs working in 25 states. For more information about this award winning organization visit www.courthousedogs.org.

Past Recipients:

Rocky Mountain Victim Law Center & Denver District Attorney’s Office (2012)
Alaska Office of Victims’ Rights (2011)
Victim Witness Section of the United States Attorney’s Office, Eastern District of Arizona (2010)
Mónica Ramírez (2009)
Multnomah County District Attorney’s Office, James McIntyre, & Russ Rato (2008)
Attorney General Hardy Myers (2007)
Grant County Prosecutor’s Office & Dano, Gilbert & Ahrend P.L.L.C. (2006)