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Digest of the Week | Support Animal

Digest of the Week | Support Animal

Complainant witness's pet dog allowed as support animal at dangerous offender hearing



R. v. Roper
2015 BCSC 2107
British Columbia Supreme Court



Criminal law --- Victims' rights and third party remedies — Support person


Support dog — Dangerous offender hearing was held with respect to accused — Crown applied for complainant to have her pet lapdog with her while she testified to unlawful confinement charges in order to put her at ease — Application granted — Dog was not service animal — While this was not application for "support person" under s. 486.1 of Criminal Code, fundamental idea was same — Animal may be allowed if it will assist in obtaining "full and candid account" from witness — Therapy and service animals have begun to take on role in courtroom — Dog obediently followed his owner's commands and would not be obtrusive, despite not being accredited as service animal — Court exercised its discretion to permit complainant to have her pet lapdog with her while testifying, as animal would ease her anxiety and assist with her testimony — Factors favouring unusual exercise of discretion to permit animal to remain in courtroom as part of court's ability to manage conduct of affairs were consent of both counsel, circumstances of complainant, nature of offence, and nature of relationship between accused and complainant — Dog would be removed if it became disruptive in any way.
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