A specially trained dog capable of reassuring crime victims and concerned witnesses in legal proceedings has proven so successful that the program may be rolled out further.
Over a year-long trial, Black Labrador Lol was called into courts and interrogation rooms when people needed a little assistance in court in Cahors, France.
Jean-Thibault Daniel of the Handi’chiens Association, who owns Lol, said: “The consent of the victim or the witness is required but there are relatively few cases where, when given the opportunity to meet Lol, they say they don’t want this to be.
“Most of the cases it is used in are children or younger teenagers who can easily be overwhelmed by the environment and the flow of a formal interview or legal process.
“Having a friendly, empathetic dog by your side makes all the difference.”
Prosecutor Frédéric Almendros, who initiated the plan, initially thought Lol’s role would be limited to reassuring victims and witnesses while they waited for their case, but he behaved so well that he was soon allowed into the courtroom.
Mr. Daniel said that BBC: “It was important that the dog didn’t disturb the process, and he doesn’t.
“He sits quietly by the side of the victim or witness, but I have seen him react, caressing or gently rubbing people when they are tense and upset, and it seems to calm them down for them to continue with their testimony can. “or listen to the process.”
Lol went through the normal training of all dogs in the association Handi’chiens, which was originally founded to provide assistance dogs for people in wheelchairs or with diseases such as epilepsy.
Since then, training has been added for dogs going to retirement homes or helping people with mental health problems.
Puppies are bought at two or three months of age and then spend 16 months with volunteer families who have a mission to socialize the young dogs and also to expose them to various situations.
And now Lol is making a name for itself far beyond southwest France.
He was driven to the European Parliament to attend a seminar on crime and helping victims.
And when President Macron, who owns a mixed black Labrador, spent two days in the Lot this month, he asked the team that looked after Lol what he was eating and his temperament.
Lot Department chief prosecutor Frédéric Almendros says the next experiment will begin later this month to see if Lol can help reform violent criminals.
In his words, “If anyone can make a repeat offender, it is Lol.”