Section 92.55(4) of the Florida Statutes enables the Court to establish conditions it finds just and appropriate when taking the testimony of a child, including the use of a Therapy Animal or facility dog that has been evaluated and registered according to national standards...
Based in Central Florida, Companions for Courage is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization consisting of volunteer teams comprising of a handler and a special Therapy Animal that are there to “help kids conquer their fears in the Courtroom...one paw at a time”. The volunteers and their animals help to give courage to child victims of abuse by escorting them into the courtroom where the Companion sits with the child in the witness box. If the child becomes nervous or uncomfortable, they can pat their Companion or rub them with their feet.
Sometimes it’s hard to speak to a room full of strangers, so they can look at their Companion, as long as the people in the courtroom can hear them speak. Companions for Courage animals have been evaluated and been labeled as being “bomb proof”, meaning they do not react to loud noises, sudden movement, or other distractions. Their focus is to be a Companion, or best friend for their child, and nothing else.
Our teams are also available to sit in during depositions with the child. This is another place where the Companions help these children to relax. Our handlers sign a confidentiality agreement to ensure all statements remain confidential.
The Companions for Courage animals are there for virtually any child in need – whether it be in a hospital room, a counseling center, or even a shelter, our teams are ready to visit. We even make special visits to schools and children’s events.
Companions for Courage is an all-volunteer organization, and as such, all of our services are provided free of charge. Our handlers and animals are covered by a $5,000,000 Liability Insurance policy through Alliance of Therapy Dogs.
Companions for Courage is proud to be the approved Therapy Animal Provider for the Fifth Judicial Circuit, the Ninth Judicial Circuit Courts, and Eighteenth Judicial Circuit Courts of Florida.
We'd like to give special thanks to our friends, supporters, and partners: