In Tampa, Florida, a special retirement ceremony was held for Tibet, a courthouse facility dog.
Tibet has served the Tampa Bay area for eight years, as part of Voices for Children.
A Lasting Legacy For A Courthouse Dog
It is a bittersweet moment here at VFC as we announce that two brilliant members of our Courthouse Facility Dog Program, Brenda Riggs Kocher and Tibet, are retiring. Thank you for the difference you have made in the lives of countless children. Enjoy retirement – you deserve it! pic.twitter.com/uaQ8x3Mvxv
— Voices for Children (@VFCTampa) February 15, 2022
Since 2017, Tibet has been working specifically as a Courthouse Facility Dog, caring for children in unfortunate circumstances.
Voices for Children of Tampa Bay initiated Florida’s courthouse dog program. Their goal is to “provide emotional support for traumatized children during stressful and difficult situations.”
During courtroom proceedings that can be particularly daunting for children, dogs like Tibet put them at ease. Courtroom testimonies, forensic interviews, depositions, and medical exams can be scary for kids.
Brenda Kocher, Tibet’s handler, says, “A lot of times when children know they’re going to testify, they think it’s going to be easy, and then they get up there.”
Without Tibet’s help they “clam up” and need a little extra comfort to “find their voice.”
Tibet Gets Her Well-Deserved Happily Ever After
SO proud of our Courthouse Facility Dog Program, who’s primary goal is to provide emotional support for traumatized children during stressful situations. As you can see, Every child who spends time with them feels the unconditional love they give when needed most! @GALTampa pic.twitter.com/Q2UmpAjaH2
— Voices for Children (@VFCTampa) May 17, 2021
Kocher is adopting Tibet now that her time of service is concluding.
“I am amazed and so proud of her. She is the first courthouse facility dog in the state of Florida,” says Kocher.
“She inspired changing the law in Florida to allow a facility dog to accompany a testifying witness and it’s really neat to be part of Florida history.”
Dayle Urquhart, another courthouse dog handler, concurs with this statement. She says they have requests months in advance from judges and the state attorney’s office for dogs.
“People are really believing in the impact these dogs make,” she says.
Do you think courthouse dogs can help children in stressful situations? Would a dog like Tibet make a difference for you in a court experience? Let us know in the comments below.