Therapy dogs comfort kids at Bexar courthouse

Golden retriever provides comfort to kids in court

By Eileen Gonzales - Reporter
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SAN ANTONIO - Going to court can be a stressful and emotional process for anyone, and even more so when children are involved.

At the Bexar County Courthouse, therapy dogs are sometimes brought in to help.

A 10-year-old golden retriever named Sampson visits about twice a month.

His owner Becky Snodgrass works with Child Protective Services at the Courthouse and will bring Sampson with her to work.

"The courthouse is a very stressful place most of the time so it's just kind of good just to have him here to lighten the mood," she said.

There are several dogs, including Sampson, with the organization Wags Across Texas, that visit the courthouse.

They not only bring happiness to the hallways, they also provide comfort with some serious cases; specifically those involving child abuse. 

"For every case you see on the news or read in the newspaper there are literally hundreds more. There are literally hundreds more," said Snodgrass. "You don't want to know, you don't want to know what goes on every day."

Sometimes, with the more disturbing cases, when a child is required to testify in court, the presence of a therapy dog is requested. Their job is to bring calmness and comfort to a stressful situation.

Richard Garcia, associate judge for Bexar County Children's Court, said he appreciates Sampson's presence.

"Sampson just brings out the kid in the child and it kind of helps them forget the trauma that they've been through and just brings them back to being a kid, which is what we try to do is get them to be a real child away from all these traumatic events," said Garcia.

It's not only children that benefit.

Sampson brings a welcome dose of doggie therapy to those whose work involves heartbreaking realities.

"It's not just stressful for the families, it's stressful for CPS, for the prosecutors, it's stressful for the Sheriff's Office," said Snodgrass.

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