Ellie becomes the first Canine Court Advocate in Indiana

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Paws and Think placed Ellie (named for Ellen Gegeneres) with INCASA (the Indiana Coalition Against Sexual Assault) to support victims in the courtroom as they testify against alleged perpetrators of sexual assault and other major crimes. Tiffany Tetrick and Renee Eusey, two employees of INCASA, are the primary handlers for Ellie as she works with victims in counseling and in navigating the legal process. Both Tiffany and Renee have passed their public access exam with Ellie They were trained by Paws and Think’s Trainer, Kevin Knartzer, who is supported through a grant from the Swisher Foundation.

24-Hour News 8’s Dick Wolfsie covered this story on October 8th on the Channel 8 newscast. Click here to watch the video.

Ellie visits Judge Marilyn Moores’ Court at the Marion County Juvenile Center. She says…

“There simply aren’t words to express how much we love having Ellie here at court. I decided to allow Ellie and your program into our courtrooms because my great love for animals and dogs has taught me what great comfort dogs can be in times of crisis. They are so intuitive and yet non-judgmental. Nearly every person who comes to the Juvenile Court—kids and parents alike- is in crisis—they are bewildered, scared, intimidated, confused, tearful, and sad. Anything we as the court can do to reduce the crisis and bring comfort so that people can think and respond appropriately is a positive for the process.

Ellie has shown an amazing ability to seek out those persons most upset. Its almost like radar. She hones in on them and wants to go to them. What is even more amazing is how quickly these people calm down and focus once they pet Ellie and she responds to them. It is almost instantaneous. One of the unforeseen benefits of Ellie’s cheerful presence is on the court staff and stakeholders. No one who works here or regularly practices here remains unscarred by all the trauma we witness here daily. There are days we just don’t see one positive thing. Suddenly, in comes Ellie with her wagging tail and smiling face and you can seen the immediate change – people smile and laugh. We’ve started to call it getting an “Ellie-fix”.

If time and funding would ever permit, I would love to see Ellie here full time. So many of the families we see here could use the comfort and additionally, a positive experience with an animal’s unconditional love. Then she could go into the courtrooms with whomever needed her as well.

Thank you so much for putting us in touch with Ellie and her humans.”