After a precautionary “paws” due to COVID-19, the loveable Labradors of the NSW Government’s Canine Court Companion Program (CCCP) are back on duty at Manly Courthouse Courthouse.

Member for Manly James Griffin MP said the affectionate pooches bring comfort to court users who are often experiencing some of the worst days of their lives.

“These friendly Labradors have been hounding their volunteer handlers to get back to work and make a difference in our local community once again,” Mr Griffin said.

“Their wagging tails, furry faces and wet noses help to ease anxiety and bring smiles to the faces of children, vulnerable witnesses and victims of crime.”

Attorney General Mark Speakman said each helpful hound receives up to two years of intensive training with Guide Dogs NSW/ACT.

“This ‘lab tested’ program currently operates in nine courthouses in regional and metropolitan NSW,” Mr Speakman said.

Guide Dogs NSW/ACT CEO Dale Cleaver said companion animals have been proven to ease symptoms associated with trauma, including stress and anxiety.

“Having a beautiful dog around for a pat and a chat can calm people who are feeling nervous about coming to court, particularly young children,” Mr Cleaver said.

“We’re thrilled that our Therapy Dog teams are back at work in Manly Courthouse, bringing comfort and companionship to local court users.”

Therapy Dog teams attend nominated courthouses up to four days each week. They offer support in publicly accessible areas of the courthouse, and may also receive special requests from police or court professionals to assist with people who are especially anxious.

An evaluation of the program has shown that Therapy Dogs have a calming and uplifting effect on victims of crime, as well as court professionals and volunteers, support networks, and the family and friends of people attending court.