Canines in Court - WSVN-TV - 7NEWS Miami Ft. Lauderdale News, Weather, Deco

Canines in Court

Posted: Updated:

The benefits of therapy dogs for soldiers seniors and the sick have been well documented, but a new program in South Florida is aiming to help a different group, children caught in the court system. Carmel Cafiero is On the Case.

Judy Eason: "Wanna get your jacket on...yeah?"

It's a Thursday afternoon and Coral Gears up to do what the 7-year-old does best, comfort people.

But on this day she's headed into a place normally associated with gavels - not Golden Retrievers, the Broward County courthouse.

Coral and her owner Judy Eason are volunteers with the Fort Lauderdale organization Canine Assisted Therapy Incorporated. Coral has already logged more than 700 hours helping those in need.

Judy Eason: "She has really a wide range of experience now and absolutely nothing phases her. She just rolls with everything."

And that's a good thing because the cases in Judge Susan Lebow's chamber, where Coral now works once a week, involve children and teens in trouble with the law. A few even arrive in custody and in chains.

Judy Eason: "What we try and do is get her to see the children before they go into the judge's chamber. And once they start petting her, you know, it's one of these, and you can just see them relax."

And Coral's calming presence is the point of this program. These children all have troubled pasts removed from their homes because of abuse, neglect or abandonment. Some are now even facing criminal charges.

Judge Susan Lebow: "For the most part, not all, but many are very belligerent, very angry and their demeanor changes. When their petting that dog they are not scowling at me."

Judge Lebow: "You remember your friend Coral."

We will not show his face but this boy smiled as he fed Coral before his case began. He's facing arson and burglary charges.

During the days we watched, there were some kids who interacted with Coral and others who ignored her. This 13-year-old wanted nothing to do with the dog or with the warnings the adults in the room gave him about his future.

Man: "They reported that he was making different gestures with his middle finger, cussing at people, opening the door while the vehicle was moving."

Judge Susan Lebow: "That's dangerous."

Man: "It's very dangerous."

Judge Susan Lebow: "All he wants to do is help, so that you don't wind up in prison cause that's the road you're going on."

Judge Lebow knows that spending a few minutes with a therapy dog won't change these children's' lives but there is a benefit.

Judge Susan Lebow: "My hope is that the dog will open them up to hear what we're saying, and open them up to communication with us as to what they're thinking and what they are feeling."

There is one other dog in the Broward pilot program, a three-legged shepherd mix named Roo-Roo."

Broward court administrators say the goal is to expand.

Lynn Allen: "Certainly other dependency divisions, both with the judges and the general magistrates. In any other hearing type where a child was involved in a proceeding, which may mean a family case, certainly a delinquency case, and perhaps the criminal arena as well."

As for Coral, she does get rewarded for work by a judge who has her own two rescue shepherds at home.

Judge Susan Lebow: "I think she smells my dogs on me too so that pretty much tells her that I'm a dog person and that I'm safe."

FOR MORE INFORMATION:

Canine Assisted Therapy

http://www.catdogs.org

IF YOU HAVE A STORY FOR CARMEL TO INVESTIGATE:

Miami-Dade: 305-627-CLUE

Broward: 954-921-CLUE

E-mail: clue@wsvn.com

  • Help Me HowardMore>>

  • Ticketed for Riding Bike

    Ticketed for Riding Bike

    Thursday, August 21 2014 11:05 AM EDT2014-08-21 15:05:28 GMT
    When his license was suspended he needed to get to work, so he bought a bicycle and then he got five tickets from a police officer. Why? It's why he called Help Me Howard with Patrick Fraser.
    When his license was suspended he needed to get to work, so he bought a bicycle and then he got five tickets from a police officer. Why? It's why he called Help Me Howard with Patrick Fraser.
  • $3.3 Million Lien on House

    $3.3 Million Lien on House

    Tuesday, August 19 2014 11:39 AM EDT2014-08-19 15:39:17 GMT
    The duplex that Victoria Berquist inherited from her parents.The duplex that Victoria Berquist inherited from her parents.
    When her disabled parents died, she inherited their home and a $3.3 million lien they didn't know about. Why? Because they didn't plant some grass and a hedge. Now, is she stuck paying it? It's why she called Help Me Howard with Patrick Fraser.
    When her disabled parents died, she inherited their home and a $3.3 million lien they didn't know about. Why? Because they didn't plant some grass and a hedge. Now, is she stuck paying it? It's why she called Help Me Howard with Patrick Fraser.
  • Palms Cut Down

    Palms Cut Down

    Wednesday, August 13 2014 10:46 PM EDT2014-08-14 02:46:27 GMT
    You have probably seen it before. FPL sends its crews out to cut the limbs that are in the power lines, but how about this? Cutting down nine palm trees, some in the yard, not near a power line. Can they do this? It's why one South Florida homeowner called Help Me Howard with Patrick Fraser.
    You have probably seen it before. FPL sends its crews out to cut the limbs that are in the power lines, but how about this? Cutting down nine palm trees, some in the yard, not near a power line. Can they do this? It's why one South Florida homeowner called Help Me Howard with Patrick Fraser.
  • 7News InvestigationMore>>

  • Captain of Controversy

    Captain of Controversy

    Capt. Francesco SchettinoCapt. Francesco Schettino
    In Italy this week, the captain of the Costa Concordia began pre-trial hearings he hopes will convince a judge that the deadly shipwreck was an accident and not a crime. Earlier this year, investigative reporter Carmel Cafiero traveled to Italy for an exclusive interview with Captain Schettino and now has a special assignment report on what he will be telling the court.
    In Italy this week, the captain of the Costa Concordia began pre-trial hearings he hopes will convince a judge that the deadly shipwreck was an accident and not a crime. Earlier this year, investigative reporter Carmel Cafiero traveled to Italy for an exclusive interview with Captain Schettino and now has a special assignment report on what he will be telling the court.
  • Till Death Do Us Part

    Till Death Do Us Part

    Thursday, November 7 2013 11:54 PM EST2013-11-08 04:54:26 GMT
    Alejandra Apraez said her wedding was ruined when the florist she hired did not show up. Alejandra Apraez said her wedding was ruined when the florist she hired did not show up.
    There is very little that will match a bride's wedding day -- a day, months, even years in the planning -- and one South Florida woman's wedding was ruined when the florist didn't show up. Why? A death ... but was there a death? Tonight, investigative reporter Patrick Fraser has the amazing story in a report we call "Till Death Do Us Part."
    There is very little that will match a bride's wedding day -- a day, months, even years in the planning -- and one South Florida woman's wedding was ruined when the florist didn't show up. Why? A death ... but was there a death? Tonight, investigative reporter Patrick Fraser has the amazing story in a report we call "Till Death Do Us Part."
  • Blackwater Fever

    Blackwater Fever

    It was a terrible form of malaria that killed two men. Turning their internal organs black. In south Florida we have almost wiped malaria out but now the concern -- it's spreading around us and could hit us. As...
    It was a terrible form of malaria that killed two men. Turning their internal organs black. In south Florida we have almost wiped malaria out but now the concern -- it's spreading around us and could hit us. As Patrick...
  • Bite with BelkysMore>>

  • Sea Bass Cartoccio/Spartico

    Sea Bass Cartoccio/Spartico

    Thursday, August 21 2014 5:58 PM EDT2014-08-21 21:58:10 GMT
    Fresh, juicy fish with vegetables. It's easy to make and we're going to share the secret. Let's grab a Bite with Belkys.
    Fresh, juicy fish with vegetables. It's easy to make and we're going to share the secret. Let's grab a Bite with Belkys.
  • Southeast Street Chicken/Mister Collins

    Southeast Street Chicken/Mister Collins

    Tuesday, August 19 2014 7:36 PM EDT2014-08-19 23:36:28 GMT
    A South Florida chef is sharing his chicken recipe that'll leave a fruity taste in your mouth. Time to grab a Bite with Belkys.
    A South Florida chef is sharing his chicken recipe that'll leave a fruity taste in your mouth. Time to grab a Bite with Belkys.
  • Dynamite New York Strip/Truluck's

    Dynamite New York Strip/Truluck's

    Thursday, August 14 2014 6:52 PM EDT2014-08-14 22:52:53 GMT
    If you cannot decide between steak and shrimp why not have them both. A South Florida chef shares his recipe for some good surf and turf time to grab a Bite with Belkys.
    If you cannot decide between steak and shrimp why not have them both. A South Florida chef shares his recipe for some good surf and turf time to grab a Bite with Belkys.

  • Carmel on the CaseMore>>

  • Bad Romance: Criminal Casanova Arrested

    Bad Romance: Criminal Casanova Arrested

    Tuesday, August 19 2014 10:54 PM EDT2014-08-20 02:54:12 GMT
    Frank Amanti Frank Amanti
    Two women say they've been used by a seasoned South Florida felon known for breaking hearts and the law. Investigative reporter Carmel Cafiero is on the case.
    Two women say they've been used by a seasoned South Florida felon known for breaking hearts and the law. Investigative reporter Carmel Cafiero is on the case.
  • Paver Projects at Trash Sites Raise Questions

    Paver Projects at Trash Sites Raise Questions

    Tuesday, August 5 2014 10:41 PM EDT2014-08-06 02:41:41 GMT
    It cost Miami-Dade County $768,062 to put these pavers in three of the county's 13 trash sites. It cost Miami-Dade County $768,062 to put these pavers in three of the county's 13 trash sites.
    WSVN -- Miami-Dade County is looking at deep cuts to balance the budget, so why was money spent to make dump sites look better? Investigative reporter Carmel Cafiero is On the Case.
    WSVN -- Miami-Dade County is looking at deep cuts to balance the budget, so why was money spent to make dump sites look better? Investigative reporter Carmel Cafiero is On the Case.
  • Taxing Trouble

    Taxing Trouble

    Thursday, July 31 2014 11:38 PM EDT2014-08-01 03:38:09 GMT
    WSVN -- By this time of year, most of us have paid our taxes. Some of us have even had refunds. But what happens if a tax preparer made a mistake on your return? Here's Carmel Cafiero with a special assignment report on who pays the price for "Taxing Trouble."
    WSVN -- By this time of year, most of us have paid our taxes. Some of us have even had refunds. But what happens if a tax preparer made a mistake on your return? Here's Carmel Cafiero with a special assignment report on who pays the price for "Taxing Trouble."
Powered by WorldNow

WSVN-TV
Sunbeam Television Corp
1401 79th Street Causeway
Miami, FL 33141

Switchboard: (305) 751-6692
Newsroom: (305) 795-2777

Can't find something?
Connect with us here:
Powered by WorldNow
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 WorldNow and WSVN. All Rights Reserved.
For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.